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District 99 students to receive free cardiac screenings

Published: Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 9:51 a.m. CDT

More than 5,000 students at Downers Grove North and Downers Grove South high schools have the opportunity to receive complimentary electrocardiogram screenings from the Young Hearts for Life program.

Medical staff and trained volunteers will provide the testing March 7 at North and April 10 and 11 at South to those students whose parents grant permission.

Through the support from Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, the District 99 Education Foundation and The Ken Holland Memorial Fund, the screenings will be provided to all students free of charge.

It is estimated that each week, sudden cardiac death claims the lives of more than 60 young adults in the U.S. The leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young adults is triggered by a hidden heart defect, which the ECG is intended to detect, according to a District 99 press release.

It's predicted that one-third of deaths may have been prevented through an ECG. The simple and painless test can detect about 60 percent of the abnormalities associated with sudden cardiac death that a stethoscope cannot detect, according to a District 99 press release.

Dr. Joseph Marek, a cardiologist who practices at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital and who is the Medical Director for Young Hearts for Life, advises that students of all levels of physical activity be tested — and also be tested whether or not they participate in a sport.

“Heart conditions that might not be apparent at one point might develop later, so it’s important that kids have a screening every two years,” Marek said.

International recommendations are to repeat the ECG every other year through age 25.

If the ECG results show that a further evaluation is needed, students are referred to their family physician.

The program relies on support from volunteers.

For information about the volunteer schedule at North High, visit north.csd99.org/activities/young-hearts-for-life/. To volunteer at South High, email dgsparentshelp@csd99.org.

The Young Hearts for Life Cardiac Screening Program has screened more than 100,000 students in the Chicagoland area. To learn more, visit www.yh4l.org.

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