Red hats raise awareness for infant heart health

Posted at 7:52 PM, Feb 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-01 20:52:16-05

Hundreds of newborns at Aurora Hospitals sit in nurseries today sporting tiny red hats.

It's the kick-off of American Heart Month from the American Heart Association.

This is the first year a Wisconsin hospital has taken part, all thanks to one nurse at the Aurora West Allis Hospital.

After Dawn Terpstra's sister saw an article about the project, she presented it to her bosses and they enthusiastically said yes. She said the project not only brings attention to mandated heart screenings for newborns, it also encourages family members and friends to think about their heart health.

"You know that there are many who are coming to visit. They get to ask 'where did that little red hat come from?' And then the story of the Big Hearts Little Hats gets to come to life," said Terpstra.

She reports in 2015, with more than 4,000 babies born at that facility, one to four babies every month as impacted by congenital heart disease.

Luckily, Josefina Solis' twins aren't. She knows that thanks to the mandated tests. Tests that didn't exist years ago.

"My sister, when she was born, they found out when she was a little older, she had four malfunctions in her heart," said Solis.

She said it's a relief to know her children won't have the same struggle her sister did.

Heart attack survivor Kimberly Montgomery said for family members, knowing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack can save lives.

Those symptoms (from the American Heart Association website) include:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  • Women might have these symptoms