Why would a busy professor be part of a flashmob?

Yesterday, I did something I’ve never done before! After three dance and choreography classes over 3 weeks, I was part of an awesome flashmob in the middle of the Sydney, at Pitt Street Mall! With some Gaga, shuffling, and Bollywood, the flashmob was very well received by the massive crowd which poured out of Myer, Zara, and other stores! The flashmob was professionally filmed, so stay tuned for the YouTube clip!! So why would a 45yo busy professor and cardiologist, with not the greatest dancing talents, participate in a flashmob?

Well it was all for raising community awareness of heart disease in children and young adults, highlighting the importance of providing supportive care as young people come to terms with a life-long diagnosis of a congenital or genetic heart disease. Specifically, the flashmob highlighted a relatively new organisation, Hearts4Heart, whose focus is to support young people with heart disease (www.hearts4heart.net.au).

As a cardiologist who focuses on heart disease in the young, it’s important to realise that heart disease in a 16yo is very different to heart disease in a 60yo! The diagnosis of a congenital or genetic heart disease in a young person implies many things. The diagnosis is usually life-long, and so the young person is labelled as a heart disease patient for many decades ahead. Treatment is often life-long, and may include daily medications and open-heart surgery. In many childhood heart diseases, young patients are also advised to avoid competitive sports as this can itself be a trigger for cardiac complications. As many of these diseases are genetic, there are also implications for these young patients as they grow older and consider starting a family. There is usually a 50% chance of the offspring of a genetic heart disease patient having the same disease. All of these factors contribute to significant psychological and social consequences as the lives of these young people with heart disease take shape.

It is therefore essential that in addition to the sorts of things I do every day in terms of diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in the young, appropriate support for these young people and their families exists. Education, psychological and social support are essential factors in the life-long management of these young patients. The newly formed Hearts4Heart is one organisation that is specifically focusing on helping these young patients and their families. While I am always reluctant to add to my busy professional and family life, I was delighted to accept an invitation to be a director on the Hearts4Heart Board, with the ultimate goal to help children, teenagers and young adults with heart disease.

So why was I happy to be part of a flashmob? Well, first, I thought the idea of a flashmob to raise awareness of young people with heart disease via Hearts4Heart showed great creativity, something that is lacking in many other organisations. But mainly… I love watching artistic expression in all forms, I love being part of a passionate, dedicated, and creative team, I’ve always admired Bollywood dance, and above all, I would do most things which will ultimately improve how we care for our young patients and families with heart disease!