TUPELO – When Teresa Cash attended last year’s Weston Reed Cardiovascular Conference and Cardiovascular Health Fair, she had no idea she’d come away diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening condition.
“I was just there volunteering,” said Cash, who was assisting visitors as they signed up for free CPR classes. “We had a break, and we decided to walk through and get our cholesterol checked.”
When she stopped at the Ankle-Brachial Index station to be evaluated for peripheral vascular disease, “Dr. Bertolet heard something,” Cash said. “He said, ‘I don’t want to scare you.’”
Normally the blood pressure in the right arm very closely matches the value in the left arm, and similarly the values in the legs should correspond well to those in the arms, explained Barry Bertolet, a cardiologist at Cardiology Associates of North Mississippi. When Cash had her ABI, “There was an abnormality which allowed us to find the cholesterol issue we’re dealing with now.”
To prevent blockage that could cause peripheral vascular disease, or PAD, Cash is now taking a cholesterol-lowering medication. She also visits Bertolet’s office for regular heart checkups.
“It’s all about prevention,” said Cash, 43, noting the helpfulness of the physicians, nurses and other health care workers who staff the event. “They are there for you. What better way than to go to the Weston Reed Cardiovascular Conference and there they are.”
“That’s what this conference is about – early detection and treatment,” Bertolet said. “She’s a perfect example of exactly what we’re trying to do.”
The Weston Reed Cardiovascular Conference was established in memory of 11-year-old Weston Reed, who died of sudden cardiac arrest on Aug. 16, 2007, while practicing soccer at Ballard Park.
Although several physicians who were at the soccer field administered CPR within seconds, Reed could not be saved, and there was not immediate access to an automated external defibrillator to try to shock his heart back into rhythm.
The conference goals are to raise public awareness of sudden cardiac death, to train area residents in CPR and the use of AEDs, as well as to provide AEDs in public places throughout the community. The conference has provided 55 automated external defibrillators to parks and recreation facilities, schools, churches and law enforcement officers to make the lifesaving devices more widely available.
The third conference will be Saturday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at the BancorpSouth Arena, where participants 15 and older can become certified in CPR and portable defibrillator use. They also can take advantage of free heart health screenings including blood pressure, lipid profile, six-lead EKG, ankle brachial index and parasternal echocardiogram.
The echocardiogram is new to the conference, said Dr. Karl Crossen, also of Cardiology Associates of North Mississippi.
“That’s kind of a unique opportunity,” Crossen said, explaining that the painless, ultrasound technique can determine whether or not the heart contracts normally.
“It only takes a few minutes to look inside someone’s chest,” he said, adding that although the echocardiogram will be the most time-consuming station at the health fair, “Taking care of yourself is always worthwhile.”
If you go
The third annual Tupelo Lives: Weston Reed Cardiovascular Conference will be held from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at the BancorpSouth Arena.
Free of charge, individuals 15 years and older can become certified in CPR and portable defibrillator use. Participants can also take advantage of free heart health screenings including blood pressure, lipid profile (to include triglycerides, total cholesterol, HDL and LDL), six-lead EKG, ankle brachial index (to evaluate for peripheral vascular disease) and parasternal echocardiogram.
To register for free CPR/AED training or for more information, call (662) 841-5819, e-mail email@example.com or visit westonreedcc.org.
Donations to help provide training and AEDs are tax deductible and can be made to the Weston Reed Cardiovascular Conference Fund or to the Weston Reed AED Fund (for AEDs only). Mail contributions to the CREATE Foundation, P.O. Box 1053, Tupelo, MS 38802.
Ginny Miller/NEMS Daily Journal