Pressure Valve

East Jefferson General Hospital (4200 Houma Blvd., Metairie) is offering free blood pressure screenings at various locations in Metairie.

Medical professionals will take people's blood pressure from 10 a.m. to noon at the Canal Garage Ground Link of the hospital on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at Clearview Mall (4436 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie), and from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month at Lakeside Shopping Center (3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie). Call 454-4066 for more information.

Taking on TAAs

Dr. Samuel Money of Ochsner Clinic Foundation (1514 Jefferson Hwy.) is heading a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of a nonsurgical treatment for thoracic aortic aneurysms (TAA), a ballooning of the largest artery that carries blood out of the heart and into the body's organs. About 15,000 Americans die of TAAs annually, and some 20,000 people are diagnosed with the condition each year.

TAA can be handled through surgery, but the procedure can be life-threatening, according to Money, one of 35 investigators heading up the trial in North America. The study will compare the difference between patients treated through open surgery and those who receive a Zenith TX2 Thoracic TAA Endovascular Graft. The trial will assess performance of the device as well as aneurysm rupture rates and survival rates among patients receiving each type of treatment.

Surgery requires a doctor to open the chest cavity, clamp the aorta and sew in a surgical graft to prevent an aneurysm from rupturing. The Zenith TX2 Thoracic TAA Endovascular Graft, a self-expanding stent graft, is inserted into an artery in the leg through a small incision then is guided under fluoroscopy to a section of the thoracic aorta where it can expand and relieve pressure on the aneurysm, which in turn helps reduce the risk that the weakened section of vein will rupture.

Medical authorities say aneurysms are caused when the arteries harden and become weak. Risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, genetic predisposition, trauma and certain congenital diseases.

For more information, call 842-4070.

Killer Molecule

Dr. Charles Hemenway, a professor of pediatrics at Tulane University School of Medicine, has received a $350,000 grant to study a molecule capable of killing a certain type of leukemia cells.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society last month awarded the grant to Hemenway to refine and test a molecule developed in his lab that effectively kills leukemia cells grown in the laboratory that are associated with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in humans. While the molecule killed the defective cells, it spared healthy bone marrow cells in lab tests.

ALL is an aggressive form of leukemia, a disease of the bone marrow and blood, which the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society says attributes to about 400 deaths in Louisiana each year. Scientists believe ALL results when the genetic material in chromosomes of developing blood cells is rearranged. Researchers hope that the molecule can block the transformation that results in ALL without damaging healthy bone marrow.

Sharpening Parenting Skills

Social worker Diane Strait will discuss how to talk with your young child about appropriate behavior and inappropriate touching during a talk titled "That Birds & Bees Talk About Tots," at 6:30 p.m. March 8 at the Parenting Center at St. Tammany Parish Hospital (1202 S. Tyler St., Covington, 985-898-4000). Cost is $10 ($5 for Parenting Center members). Register by 1 p.m. Wednesday.

During the presentation, Strait will discuss when parents should talk with children about bathing and bathroom etiquette and at what ages it becomes inappropriate to bathe with siblings and friends, etc. Call 898-4435 for more information.

The Parenting Center also invites the public to an open house of its New Family Center for labor and delivery from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 5. To take the free tour, meet in the New Family Center lobby on the third floor a little before 10 a.m. Call 898-4435 for more information.

Help for Children

A three-day radiothon broadcast on six stations that make up the Entercom New Orleans radio group last month raised more than $880,000 for Children's Hospital (200 Henry Clay Ave., 899-9511;

More than 4,500 callers pledged money during the radiothon on WWL-AM, WSMB-AM, KOOL 95.7 FM, Bayou 105.3 FM, Magic 101.9 FM and B97 FM; 100 percent of the money goes to provide services for children who are patients at the not-for-profit, full-service medical center Uptown. The 50-year-old hospital, which provides care for children from birth to 21 years, has almost 400 physicians and 40 subspecialty staffers and treats youngsters from Louisiana and the Gulf South, regardless of a family's ability to pay.

Keep Them Safe

Louisiana Passenger Task Force Technicians will instruct adults how to keep their children safe while they are in vehicles during a free seminar, "Child Passenger Safety Awareness," at 11 a.m. March 23 at the St. Tammany Parish Hospital Parenting Center (1202 S. Tyler St., Covington). The presentation will give tips on what type of seats are appropriate for individual children, when it is time to move a child into a larger seat, how to adjust seat harnesses and more. The presentation is open to the public. Call 985-898-4435 for more information.

Learn the Ropes

East Jefferson General Hospital (4200 Houma Blvd., Metairie) is holding free "Training for Life" seminars this month focusing on health and exercise. "The Inside Story" discussion begins at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 3, and will address the physiological changes your body undergoes during fitness training. "The Finish Line," which begins at 6 p.m. March 17, will cover how to pace yourself during a race and how to reach your fitness goals. The talks are free, but registration is required. Call 456-5000. &127;

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