Just a few months ago, students and faculty at Hall High School in Spring Valley, Illinois were stunned by the sudden cardiac death of Daniel Lule, a student football player who died about 20 minutes into a Wednesday night practice. Each week in the United States, sudden cardiac death claims the lives of more than 30 young adults.
In an effort to help prevent sudden cardiac deaths in our area’s adolescents, Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, through a gift from the Advocate Charitable Foundation, is pleased to announce Advocate for Young Hearts, a free cardiac screening program for local high school students.
“The screening consists of an electrocardiogram, or EKG, and may also include a limited echocardiogram to identify students at risk for sudden cardiac death,” says James McCriskin, DO, a cardiologist with Advocate Medical Group – Illinois Heart and Lung Associates. “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 EKG and medical evaluation.”
Completely painless, an EKG is obtained by attaching electrodes with slightly sticky backing to the skin of the chest, arms, and legs. The wires from the EKG machine are then connected to each of the electrodes. The child lies quietly for several minutes while the EKG is captured.
An EKG is able to detect approximately 60% of the abnormalities from these heart conditions that a stethoscope cannot. It is important to note that EKG screenings result in approximately 2% of the tests being falsely positive. This may require additional evaluation and testing by the child’s physician. Current recommendations are to repeat the EKG every other year through age 25.
“Our first area screening event will be for Central Catholic High School students on Friday, November 16,” says Dr. McCriskin. “We expect to screen about 375 students.”
“The safety and well-being of our students is our primary concern,” says Joy Allen, Principal of Central Catholic High School in Bloomington, Ill. “We are thrilled by this partnership with the Advocate Charitable Foundation and its ability to help our students and families identify potential threats to their cardiac health.”
Additional screenings will be scheduled at other area high schools in the weeks to come. 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, or visit www.advocatehealth.com/bromenn/afyh .
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