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  1. For this semester’s STEAM Project peer review abstract, I was paired up with Katie Wrobel. Her project, a research paper, covers the objectives: “Analyze the interaction of the cardio and respiratory system” and “Explain the structure and function of the heart.” Her paper covers a condition that satisfies both of these objectives, otherwise known as pectus excavatum, or funnel chest. Pectus excavatum is a congenital disorder where the breast bone is sunken into the chest. This causes the organs inside the chest cavity to be squished, and can even push the heart to one side and squish it as well. There are no known causes to this disorder, but there are speculations that it is a hereditary disorder, and that genetics are to blame. Another speculation is linked to disorders involving connective tissue. Symptoms of pectus excavatum include shortness of breath, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, and heart palpitations. Heart arrhythmia is also a side effect caused from having pectus excavatum, where pressure from the sunken sternum on the heart causes the mitral valve to not function properly, allowing blood to backflow into the left atrium. Treatments for this disorder depend on the severity of the case. If the case is mild and does not generally affect day to day life, then the only thing that medical care providers would do is monitor the growth of the organs inside the chest cavity. If the case is more severe there are two different options that a patient could possibly undergo for treatment. The first is a non-invasive treatment, and the second is an invasive treatment. Pectus excavatum is most commonly found in males and occurs in about 8 individuals per 1,000. It is found that individuals who have this condition most of the time have genetic links to other family members who also have this condition.

    Izzy Widener

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