By Kim Russell
9 Oct

Heart to Heart in Atlanta

Thursday, October 09, 2014

"I wanted to go to the ACHA National Conference, but wasn't able to. This Heart to Heart Where You Live event in Atlanta was a great opportunity to experience it in part on a local level," was a common comment heard after our event this past Saturday. People came from as far away as Arkansas to enjoy time together with fellow CHDers and hear informative speakers who talked about topics such as lifelong care, low-carb diets, and the electricity of the heart.

Dr. Wendy Book, Director of the Emory Adult Congenital Heart Center, covered many topics about living with CHD, including lifelong care, exercise and pregnancy. She explained that many CHDers were told that they were "surgically fixed." This is very seldom the case. In years past, some surgeries were considered a complete fix, but now years later these same patients are needing additional care and/or procedures.

"We don't know that until they come to our office in a crisis," Dr. Book told us. Lifelong care and a visit to the doctor at least every two years is necessary to avoid these crisis situations. In addition, the doctors will discuss issues that will help you in the future. One of those issues is pregnancy. Do you know whether or not pregnancy is an option for you? Dr. Book stressed and emphasized, "Please visit with your cardiologist BEFORE, BEFORE, BEFORE you get pregnant." It is very important that a cardiologist follows your care to avoid what could become devastating circumstances.

Dr. Camden Hebson, an ACHD cardiologist from Emory, revealed statistics and information about following a low-carbohydrate diet. It is much better for your heart and makes it much easier to lose weight. His PowerPoint presentation was entertaining and informative.

Dr. Michael Lloyd, an Emory electrophysiologist, showed a video of a gentlemen acting out how the heart works. His commentary along the way was so humorous, yet helped us understand the importance of knowing the activity of your heart. He recommended a product that allows you to record an ECG anytime, anywhere.

In the late morning, our attendees had opportunity to ask a panel of CHD professionals any question they wanted during an open forum. The professionals included Dr. Lloyd, an employment attorney, a social worker and a nurse practitioner, all of whom work for Emory University. My husband Tom and I both were on the panels as ACHA Ambassadors.

Many topics were discussed, including being honest but not giving too much information to your employer, CHD meaning lifelong care, medical ID bracelets, and the social effects of having a family member with CHD, especially couples. We also talked about the Loving a Broken Heart series of videos by CHDers and families.

What a day! Laughing, visiting with current friends, and making new ones was the highlight of the day. Thank you to all those who came and made this event a true success. Thank you, ACHA, for making this possible. We all had a great time!

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