The typical school sports physical may fall short in assessing heart health. Because sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in young athletes, Beaumont Health cardiologists and partner 97.1 The Ticket offer free Student Heart Check screenings to area high school students. The program is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.
The next Student Heart Check screening is Sat., Oct. 14 at Bloomfield Hills High School, 4200 Andover Rd. in Bloomfield Hills from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The free student heart screening takes about an hour and will include a medical history, blood pressure check, an electrocardiogram or ECG, and a “quick-look” echocardiogram, an ultrasound image of the heart.
Although there is no charge to participate, registration is required.
Beaumont Children’s pediatric cardiologist, Nancy Cutler, M.D., said, “One of the most serious conditions we’re looking for through the Student Heart Check screening is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy - a common cause of death in young athletes. This is a condition where the walls of the heart are abnormally thick. Not only can this thickness cause blockage of the blood flow of the heart, but it can also put them at risk for life-threatening heart rhythm problems, including sudden cardiac death. As a doctor and a mother, I don’t want to see your child, friend or neighbor have one of these sudden events.”
Beaumont created the Student Heart Check screening program in May 2007. Since then, Beaumont has screened 15,372 Michigan high school students. Of those students, 189 were told to stop sports and follow up with a cardiologist due to heart abnormalities and seven were diagnosed with HCM.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the single most common cause of death among U.S. athletes. Nearly 4,000 of these deaths are among young people, and one in 200,000 high school athletes will die suddenly, most without any prior symptoms. In addition, male athletes are 10 times more likely to die suddenly as a result of HCM.
As students go through the screening, Beaumont will offer CPR/automated external defibrillator education and training for students and their parents. Experts say knowing how to operate an AED or perform CPR are essential skills that everyone should learn.
The Student Heart Check program is supported by Max and Debra Ernst through the Ernst Cardiovascular Center at Beaumont Hospital – Royal Oak; the Fraternal Order of Eagles; Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals; the Charlie Sanders Foundation; the LiveLikeMax Foundation; Jersey Mike’s; the fundraising efforts of 97.1 FM The Ticket; and others in the community.