Friday, Feb. 1 was a national day for awareness of the leading cause of death for women, heart disease. Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women participated in National Wear Red Day to raise awareness of the issue by wearing red and also placed red beanie hats on newborns as a symbol of the new law that took effect in Tennessee on Jan. 1, 2013, that requires testing newborns for congenital heart defects before they are discharged from the hospital.
“The simple, noninvasive pulse-oximeter screening is used to screen for congenital heart disease in newborns,” said Carol Thetford, chief nursing officer at Baptist Women’s. “A sensor is placed across the foot of an infant, and it reads the oxygen content in their blood. If it passes with oxygen-saturation levels between 97-100 percent, the baby could be cleared to discharge. If it reads below 90 percent, that is considered a fail, and we will test another location. If it fails twice, then we will have the doctor perform a cardiology consult.”
Congenital heart diseases account for nearly 30 percent of the infant deaths caused by birth defects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each year, some 300 infants are sent home from newborn nurseries with undetected critical congenital heart defects, the CDC estimates.
The hats and lapel pins given to the mothers of the newborns were provided by the American Heart Association to help raise awareness of women’s heart disease. According to AHA, heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined.
“At Baptist Women’s Hospital we are very concerned that in the Mid-South, women don’t take heart disease as seriously as they should. We need to make sure that everyone is aware,” said Thetford.
Alice Apple, patient care assistant at Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women; and Suzette Howe, registered nurse, hold newborns with red beanie hats on Friday, Feb. 1. The American Heart Association donated the hats for every baby born in the month of February to help raise awareness of heart disease in women.