Heart conference draws large crowd

TUPELO – About twice as many people as expected poured into the BancorpSouth Arena on Saturday to take advantage of numerous health screenings and programs offered at the Weston Reed Cardiovascular Conference.
“We had made 300 copies of the results folders and by about 11 o’clock they were almost gone,” said North Mississippi Medical Center spokeswoman Deborah Pugh. “We made about 200 more copies.”
Several classes of 60 each were filled to capacity teaching CPR and how to use the automated external defibrillator, a machine that can shock the heart back into rhythm.
Lines had formed by 9:15 a.m. for free evaluations to measure risk of cardiovascular disease, including electrocardiograms, echocardiograms, lipid profiles for cholesterol, blood pressure and ankle brachial index to measure blood pressure in the legs and body mass index.
Physicians also were on site to explain results of the tests to individual participants.
“There are lots of people in my family who have different kinds of heart problems, so I wanted to get some things evaluated for myself,” said 72-year-old Juanita Owens of Saltillo.
The conference, in its third year, honors the life of Weston Reed, an 11-year-old who suffered sudden cardiac death in August 2007 while on the soccer field.
Conference organizers believe certifying more people to use CPR, and placing more AEDs in public places will save more lives.
Each year a raffle during the conference and other donations raise money to buy defibrillators to place throughout the community.
Already public schools, churches, law enforcement agencies and various sites of Tupelo Parks and Recreation have received some of the dozens of defibrillators that have been distributed.
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com.

Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal