Advocate for Young Hearts: A free cardiac screening for youth
Studies show that sudden cardiac arrest claims the lives of 30 young adults every week in the United States. In an effort to help prevent sudden cardiac deaths, Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, through a gift from the Advocate Charitable Foundation, is pleased to offer Advocate for Young Hearts, a free cardiac screening program for local high school students.
What does the screening include? The screening consists of an electrocardiogram, or ECG, and may also include a limited echocardiogram to identify students at risk for sudden cardiac death. An EKG can detect certain serious heart conditions by recording the electrical activity of the heart. Many children or young adults who experience sudden cardiac arrest have an undiagnosed hereditary defect that triggers an irregular heart rhythm, causing the cardiac arrest. These conditions can often be diagnosed using an ECG and medical evaluation.
Completely painless, an ECG is obtained by attaching electrodes with slightly sticky backing to the skin of the chest, arms, and legs. The wires from the ECG machine are then connected to each of the electrodes. The youth lies quietly for several minutes while the ECG is captured.
Students’ confidentiality, privacy and individual modesty is respected throughout all aspects of the program. Only female technicians test the girls. Girls and boys are screened in separate areas.
An ECG is able to detect approximately 60% of the abnormalities from these heart conditions that a stethoscope cannot. It is important to note that ECG screenings result in approximately 2% of the tests being falsely positive. This may require additional evaluation and testing by the teen’s physician.
What is sudden cardiac arrest? There are two main functioning cycles in the heart, the pumping cycle and the electrical cycle. Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the electrical cycle of the heart suddenly stops.
The most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest In children or young adults is an irregular heart rhythm due to an undiagnosed hereditary defect. In rare cases, arrest can also be caused by a sudden blow to the chest.
How will I know if my teen is at risk for sudden cardiac arrest? Utilize the free screening at your teen’s high school, as many children and young adults may not have any warning signs. Most genetic abnormalities, both structural and electrical, cannot be diagnosed with a stethoscope alone. Most pre-participation sports physicals do not require the quick, painless ECG screenings that have been known to save lives.
What are some of the conditions the screening can help detect?
For additional information For more information about the Advocate for Young Hearts program, please contact Christie Rocke, RN, BSN, with the Community Wellness team at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, at 309.268.2437.