Tips for a Happy, Healthy Heart

American Heart Month is coming to a close, but please keep these helpful tips in mind to keep your and your family’s heart healthy year-round!

  • Choose heart healthy foods: Eat foods that are high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Substitute healthy foods for unhealthy ones, such as fried chicken for grilled chicken. Pack healthy snacks such as nuts, baby carrots, or air-popped popcorn. 


  • Limit your intake of fats and salt, especially foods that are high in saturated fats and cholesterol such as whole milk, cheeses and red meat.


  • Encourage your child to get 30-60 minutes of physical activity every day. Exercise helps to increase the amount of “good” cholesterol (HDL) in your body which helps to lower the risk for heart disease. Join in the fun with them. A walk around the block after dinner will do your heart and body good.


  • Limit the amount of time that your children watch TV, use the internet or play video games. Encourage them to go on a bike ride or play an outdoor game instead.


  • Shake off negative emotions. Managing stress properly is critical to preventing future heart problems. Talk openly with your kids and teach them methods for coping with stress. For a young child, that may be a fun game or comic book; for a teen that may be taking up a sport or relaxing hobby.

Melody Therapy at CHOC Improving Lives For Patients With Heart Disease

In honor of American Heart Month, we’re highlighting the CHOC Children’s Heart Institute including stories of our brave patients, as well as our amazing experts and some of the cutting-edge procedures they are using in caring for infants and children with heart defects/disease.  We recently spoke to Dr. Farhouch Berdjis, medical director of the CHOC Cardiac Catheterization Lab, about the new Melody Transcatheter Pulmonary Valve (TPV) Therapy, a less invasive procedure which can delay the need for open heart surgery.

Q: How do heart valves function?
A: The heart has four chambers. As the heart beats, normal heart valves repeatedly open and close fully to ensure that blood flows forward through the heart’s chambers. A narrowed or leaky heart valve can cause dizziness, chest pain, weakness, and can lead to serious medical problems.

Q: What is the Melody therapy and what makes it so unique?
A: The Melody therapy treats narrowed or leaking pulmonary valve conduits without open-heart surgery. With this therapy, a thin, hollow catheter or “tube” holding a specially designed heart valve is inserted into a child’s vein in his leg and guided to his heart. The heart valve is attached to a wire frame that expands with the help of a balloon to push the child’s blocked pulmonary conduit open. CHOC is one of a few hospitals in the United States currently using this state-of-the-art, FDA- approved procedure to treat the pulmonary valve.

Q: How will patients and families benefit from this procedure?
A: This therapy can be an alternative to surgery for some children who have already undergone previous heart surgeries. Patients can expect less scarring, less stress to their circulatory system, and an overall speedy and positive recovery both physically and emotionally.
To learn more about the Melody therapy, please contact Dr. Berdjis’ office at 714-547-0900. To learn more about the CHOC Children’s Heart Institute, click here:

Share the Love – Send a Heart eCard

Send a Heart eCard and make a donation to the CHOC Heart Institute!
Now, in honor of Heart Month, you can send someone a special CHOC Heart eCard and help kids at the same time. Proceeds from the sale of these ecards will go to benefit the CHOC Heart Institute. Your donation will help us provide state of the art diagnosis and treatment for an entire spectrum of cardiac conditions from the neonatal to the adolescent patient.

For more information about the CHOC Heart Institute, visit

Heart Problems – What Parents Should Know

Did you know that at least nine of every 1,000 infants born a year have a heart defect, according to the American Heart Association? While some heart diseases are congenital (existing at birth) others are acquired (which can develop during childhood).

In recognition of American Heart Month, CHOC Children’s encourages parents and caregivers to learn about the symptoms associated with some of these heart conditions. Certain symptoms can suggest that your child or teen has a heart problem that needs a doctor’s attention. This is especially true if symptoms occur during sports or other activities.

Talk with your doctor if your child experiences any of the mentioned symptoms. Keep in mind that these signs do not necessarily mean that your child has a heart problem. For example, a child who faints during sports may have low blood sugar or other temporary problems. A doctor can help find the cause.

Click here to learn more about the heart conditions, symptoms and treatment options, treated by experts at the CHOC Children’s Heart Institute.

January is Blood Donor Awareness Month

In recognition of Blood Donor Awareness Month, consider donating blood to the patients at CHOC Children’s.

Kids with cancer, aplastic anemia, blood disorders and those undergoing certain types of surgery benefit especially from these donations. Bone marrow transplant patients and newborns for instance, may need white blood cells to help fight off infections when their immune systems are weak. Your donation can have a direct impact on the recovery of a patient.

To become a blood donor, please contact CHOC Blood and Donor Services at 714-532-8339. To learn more, click here: