Friday, September 26, 2008

Online Discussion on Adult CHD to be held October 2

Next Thursday, October 2, 2008 at 12 noon (EST) Cleveland Clinic will host an online health chat on Adult Congenital Heart Disease.

During this chat, Dr. Richard Krasuski, Director of Adult Congenital Heart Disease Services and a staff cardiologist in the Section of Clinical Cardiology, Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute, explores the treatment options available for adults living with a congenital heart disease. More information on this chat can be found at

Dr. Krasuski's specialty interests include adult congenital heart disease including atrial septal defects, patent foramen ovale, ventricular septal defects, coarctation of the aorta, Ebstein anomaly, Eisenmenger syndrome, transposition of the great arteries, Tetralogy of Fallot and patent ductus arteriosus. He also specializes in pulmonary hypertension, mitral valve disease, cardiac catheterization, transesophageal echocardiography and mitral, aortic and pulmonic valvuloplasty.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Too Close To Home...

A recent article in The Sun (13 Sept) asserts that a teenage girl with a congenital heart defect died after telling her gym teacher she did not feel well. She was warming up for hockey practice when she asked to stop because of chest pain but, according to classmates, the gym teacher told her to keep going. The classmates then watched her collapse on the pitch.As a heart parent, I can tell you that this is one of my biggest nightmares. I've been unable to let go of the bond with my daughter into another's care (other than family members and the occassional night out while the neighbors come over). Granted, she's only two at this point, but I worry about the day when she will enter public or private school, out from beneath my watchful eye. I've heard so many stories about children with special directives and orders who are overlooked or ignored by their teachers, counselors, coaches, etc. How will I protect my daughter from such a tragedy, yet encourage her toward independence?

Of course, no one can fully protect their child. I understand this. But one can take steps to help ensure a tragic accident such as this one does not occur. The parents of the girl who passed away at hockey practice had made the school aware of Sasha's condition, so they assumed that this information would be passed on to her teachers. Apparently, it was not.

As parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children how to live with their heart condition, to know their bodies and be able to judge accordingly when "enough is enough." The father of the deceased child said, “Sasha had lived with her heart condition since she was born and she knew her own body. Yet even though the school knew she had this problem, they still didn’t listen to her when she said she was unwell.”

Clearly there is something to be learned from this tragic incident. I know I personally take the following from it:

  1. Teach your child about their heart condition. Help them to understand their body.
  2. Make sure your child's caregivers are aware of his or her condition, and the potential stresses that could lead to a serious medical crisis.
  3. Teach your child that it's OK to take breaks when you need to. Even if a coach, friend or other person is pushing you to go farther, your child is the best judge of his/her body. Don't take unnecessary risks.
  4. Talk to gym teachers, coaches and other sport instructors that your child will be working with. Make sure they understand the child's condition and any special considerations and precautions that should be taken.
What do you do to protect your child? How have you taught him to read his body's signs? How do you help her to engage in a healthy, active lifestyle without providing undue stress to her already fragile heart?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Real CHD Survivors on Reality TV!


PHILADELPHIA – SEPTEMBER 04, 2008 – The Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA) announced today that congenital heart defect (CHD) survivor, Heather Magee, will be featured on the season finale of Lifetime Television’s hit series, “How To Look Good Naked,” airing September 9 at 10:00 PM EST.

Magee, a survivor of two childhood surgeries to correct a congenital heart defect that left her with only one working ventricle, the most recent of which was performed in October 2007, confronts her body image on the show in the wake of multiple scars, both physical from the incisions, and the mental impact of coping with a congenital heart defect as an adult.

“For almost twenty years I lived under a false sense of security that my heart condition was a childhood problem that was fixed long ago,” said Magee. “When I discovered four years ago that CHD is a lifelong struggle that requires ongoing care, it threw me for a tailspin. Not only did I suffer physically from my condition and the resulting corrective surgery, but mentally as well. I participated in ‘How To Look Good Naked’ both to raise my self esteem after a traumatic time in my life, and also to raise awareness among the millions of adults living with CHD that they must seek treatment for their condition if they aren’t already doing so.”

Approximately 1.8 million adults in the United States are living with congenital heart defects. Most, like Magee, underwent open-heart surgery as an infant or child, and drop out of special congenital heart care, as they believe themselves to be “fixed.” However, recent evidence shows that heart procedures performed on young children may weaken over time, leading to serious health complications as early as young adulthood.

Magee’s appearance on the season finale of “How To Look Good Naked” will do more than just increase awareness of congenital heart defects among the viewing audience, it will help raise the funds necessary to continue the ACHA’s mission. For the first time in the series’ history, the episode also served as a fundraiser. The show featured Magee and other adults living with CHD in a charity fashion show that raised $10,000, which will be divided between the ACHA and the Ahmanson/UCLA Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center (Ahmanson/UCLA ACHD Center), where Magee was treated for her condition.

More about the show can be found at Lifetime's website.

For More Information:
Anna Espe, Development Associate
Adult Congenital Heart Association