#31 "ALWAYS"



For Immediate Release --------- Contact Wendy Hirschhorn 212-826-8790 - wendy@4hcm.org


Metairie, LA (October 1, 2008) - Wally and Terry Pontiff, Sr., founders of the Wally Pontiff, Jr. Foundation, are working in partnership with the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association (HCMA) to raise awareness of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a genetic disease which results in a thickening of the heart muscle. Although there is no cure for HCM, the best defense is to diagnose it early, and treat it with beta blockers and, in some cases, an Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator (ICD)


Regrettably, Wally Pontiff, Jr., a star student athlete at Louisiana State University on the cusp of signing up with the Oakland A's, died in his sleep from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) in 2002 at the age of 21. Each year 300,000 people die from SCA. The most common cause of SCA in the young is HCM.


According to Lisa Salberg, founder and CEO of the HCMA, recent surveys have shown that the general medical community has a very limited understanding of HCM and other conditions which mimic it.


Since its inception in 1996, the HCMA has been raising awareness about HCM on a national level. It recently adapted a new approach to educate one medical community at a time through its "Get the Word OUT!" campaign.


"The money donated by the Wally Pontiff, Jr. Foundation will be used to educate cardiologists in the greater Metairie and New Orleans", said Salberg.


As a result, 150 cardiologists will receive from HCMA - in memory of Wally Pontiff, Jr. - and information package containing HCM fact sheets, medical journal articles, an a copy of HCM for Patients, Their Families and Interested Physicians, co-authored by Salberg and Dr. Barry J. Maron, head of the HCM center at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation.


"No parent should ever have to lose a child, " said Terry Pontiff. " We want to get the word out that by simply improving pre-participation screening forms and conducting ECGs on properly selected children and athletes we can reduce cardiac death"