Addison Trail hosted its annual young hearts for life program, which provides free EKG heart screenings for all students throughout the day, on February 20.
Young Hearts for Life is a program that was founded in 2006 by cardiologist Dr. Joseph Marek. Since then, according to Advocate Heart Institute, Young Hearts for Life is now officially recognized as the largest youth heart screening program prevalent in the United States.
According to statistics from the American Heart Association, there are more than 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests annually in the U.S, and nearly 90% of them fatal.
In addition, each week, sudden deaths caused by cardiac-related issues result in, on average, about 60 young adult deaths.
These deaths are often linked to undiscovered heart defects or overlooked heart abnormalities. However, typically, when these sudden deaths occur, they are during physical activity and are associated with abnormal heart rhythms.
Although these cardiac issues have the potential to result in death, it is rare that they are detected before they take their toll. For this reason, it is paramount for people to check up on their heart regularly.
Mary Bugyi, a volunteer with the program for the past 8 years described it as a rewarding and impactful experience.
“Every single time we come to a school, we catch at least one student who might have a problem and should move on to further testing,” said Bugyi.
Mr. Thomas of the Physical Education department continued this train of thought by elaborating on the importance of taking care of one’s health, and why these screenings matter.
“Students need to get their heart scanned. Normally you would have to pay out of pocket for a screening like this and the expense could be very high, it could be anywhere from $500 up to $1000. These kids are fortunate to have their hearts scanned and know about their hearts and be aware if they’re enlarged or not. Overall Young Hearts for Life is a very important test for the school,” said Thomas.
Ultimately, a majority of students agreed with Thomas’s insight, seeing that the ratio of students who received a screening far outweighed the percentage of those who did not.
Many students, such as Senior Karina Nevarez expressed a lot of appreciation for the Young Hearts for Life program.
“In general it’s important to know if you are healthy, and it’s an amazing opportunity that Addison Trail can offer these screenings. They should be done everywhere, and I’m grateful that we have the resources to get them,” said Nevarez.
Other students such as Sophomore Roohana Amin, have firsthand experience with knowing how important regularly testing your heart is.
“In seventh grade, I was diagnosed with an abnormal EKG and it has been normal since then, however, over time I have noticed I was not able to breathe properly, so I decided I should take advantage of this opportunity,” said Amin.
Amin also elaborated on how programs such as Young Hearts for life must be expanded throughout the United States to keep America’s youth healthy.
“People have heart problems all across the country. This is a nationwide problem, and many people cannot afford these tests, so they need to be offered for free just like how they are at Addison Trail,” said Amin.