Northwestern Medicine Cardiologist and Cardiac Surgeon Lead Walk for Victory for Patients With Marfan Syndrome

Northwestern Medicine
Cardiology June 02, 2021
On Saturday, June 5, Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute will join the Marfan Foundation* in raising money and awareness for a genetic syndrome that impacts one in 5,000 people and can result in serious cardiovascular issues. 

Leading the Marfan Foundation Chicago Virtual Walk for Victory are S. Christopher Malaisrie, MD, cardiac surgeon and co-director of the Northwestern Medicine Marfan Syndrome clinic, and Lisa D. Wilsbacher, MD, PhD, cardiologist, who are the event’s medical chairs. Dr. Malaisrie and Dr. Wilsbacher are part of the Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, a leader in the treatment of Marfan and related syndromes.  

Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder affecting the body’s connective tissue, tissue that is made up of proteins. It is caused by a genetic mutation in the gene that tells the body how to make a protein called fibrillin-1. The mutation then increases a protein called TGF-β, which causes problems in connective tissue throughout the body. These problems can manifest in the heart, blood vessels, joints, bones and eyes. Approximately three of four people with Marfan syndrome inherit the genetic mutation from a parent. 

“My patients with Marfan syndrome, and related syndromes like Loeys-Dietz syndrome and vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, have taught me so much about strength, resilience, the role of education about these syndromes, and the importance of community,” says Dr. Wilsbacher. “The Marfan Foundation provides incredible resources for individuals with these syndromes, and we need your help to continue research on new therapies and support community programs.”

While Marfan syndrome affects many of the body’s systems, the cardiovascular issues are the most serious and can be life-threatening. Patients with Marfan syndrome can face:
Aneurysm, an enlargement or ballooning in the aortic wall
Dissection, a tear within the aortic wall
Rupture of the aortic root or aorta
Mitral valve disease

“Marfan and related syndromes require careful monitoring by physicians trained in treating its impact,” says Dr. Malaisrie. “We are excited to continue our long-standing partnership with the Marfan Foundation in raising awareness and resources for these patients and their families.” 

In 2021, the Chicago Virtual Walk for Victory* will join similar walks in Atlanta, the Pacific Northwest and Michigan for an interactive virtual party. In addition to fundraising, the event is designed to share information about Marfan and related syndromes. 

To learn more about the Northwestern Medicine team for the event, visit the page* for the Marfan Foundation. To learn more about treatment of Marfan syndrome and related disorders at Northwestern Medicine, visit  
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