Beaumont Hospital offers free heart screenings this weekend for student athletes

OXFORD, Mich. (WXYZ) - Beaumont Health Systems says cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in young athletes. So Beaumont is teaming up with WXYZ-7 and 97.1 The Ticket to offer free student heart screenings.

The goal is to prevent sudden cardiac arrest in teens.  The free heart checks with take place Saturday, October 26th  (10:00 am - 4:00 pm)  at Oxford High School, 745 N. Oxford Road in Oxford.  You must register for the event by calling 800-328-8542. Online registration has closed and there are only a limited number of appointments available.

If you are planning to participate in Saturday's event, you are asked to park in the South or Stadium parking lot.

Beaumont says the screening will include a medical history, blood pressure check, an electrocardiogram or ECG, and a "quick-look" echocardiogram, an ultrasound image of the heart.

WXYZ-TV has been working for several years to bring to light the importance of heart checks for student athletes.

Pediatric cardiologist, Nancy Cutler, of Beaumont says, "One of the most serious conditions we're looking for through the Student Heart Checks 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, we don't want to see your child, friend or neighbor have one of these sudden events."

The Student Heart Check, part of Beaumont's Healthy Heart Check program, was created by Beaumont Health System in May 2007. Since then, Beaumont has screened 9,244 Michigan high school students. Of those students, 61 were told to stop sports and follow up with a cardiologist due to heart abnormalities and four were diagnosed with HCM.

Beaumont says: 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.