Self-Protection Guide

Season: 2003

Submitted By: Dr. Gary Webb

Actively protect your health interests in urgent situations or when travelling. Take greater charge of your own health in partnership with members of our Team, and with your local physicians.

You may find yourself in an emergency department or facing a sudden health concern. Here are some suggestions as to how to protect your interests in such situations, where information about your health may be needed quickly.

  • You should have a copy of a recent clinical letter that describes your condition and the issues being monitored by the Adult Congenital Team. Ask the clinic staff. Provide your e-mail address or fax number.
  • A copy of a recent electrocardiogram (ECG) may also be helpful. Both can be obtained through your Congenital cardiologist or the clinic staff.
  • You should ask your cardiologist which number you or your physicians should call if an urgent situation arises. Also ask what you should do if there is no one at that number. One of your cardiologists is always on call.
  • If you are admitted to hospital for heart problems or other serious troubles, please have a relative notify your cardiologist or the adult congenital clinic staff. We can help if needed.
  • If your congenital heart condition is important or risky, you may need immediate transfer to the hospital that provides special care to congenital patients.
  • You or your close family members or friends should learn about your condition(s). Most doctors know little about congenital heart defects, so your own knowledge may be very important. You can use our Website ( to get information.
  • If you will be travelling, we suggest you identify an expert adult congenital heart cardiologist at your destination. We can help you do this, or you can connect to and look under the ISACCD or CACH Network membership lists. You may choose to travel with a business card from your Congenital Clinic or your cardiologist.
  • Purchase a Medic-Alert bracelet or necklace if you have a mechanical valve, have seizures or diabetes, are on coumadin, have serious allergies or have any condition that may need emergency treatment. The bracelet or necklace alerts emergency personnel to key information if you are unconscious.
  • Such actions on your part will help you take more control of your own health, give you a better understanding of your condition, and what (if anything) to watch for.
  • Protecting your health can be easy if we work together on your behalf.

Contact your Cardiologist or your Congenital Clinic to help you to arrange these things.