Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Free heart screenings Saturday for students

By Special to the News-Journal
Feb. 7, 2018 at 11:47 p.m.

Dr. Ronald Scott goes over results with Rowdy Smith during a heart screening event for teens in 2015 at Longview Regional Medical Center.

A year ago, Wendy Denton of Harleton brought her son to have a free heart screening at Longview Regional Medical Center.

This year, she intends to volunteer with her son at the event that she says brought her peace of mind, knowing that her son was medically safe.

Longview Regional Medical Center's annual Play It Safe event — set Saturday — offers free heart screens to East Texas male and female student athletes, ages 14-18. The program is offered by the hospital in conjunction with the Championship Hearts Foundation, a nonprofit agency focused on preventing sudden cardiac death in youths.

Denton's son plays basketball, participates in shooting sports and is a member of the band and the fishing team.

"More and more, you see in the news that young people at sporting events or practices are suffering catastrophic cardiac events," Denton said. "Oftentimes, there are no signs or symptoms leading up to them. As a parent, it is my responsibility to do everything within my power to keep my child safe."

Denton said her family has a history of heart disease, and she believes early detection is vital.

"A few years ago, one of our immediate family members suffered a heart attack. We were lucky, and they survived," she said. "We decided then if we could have any help with early detection of heart issues we wanted it."

The Championship Hearts Foundation aims at helping to detect and prevent hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart condition that is common cause of sudden cardiac arrest in youths. According to the foundation, it has found through the screenings that one in 250 students are at risk for sudden cardiac arrest or related heart issues.

The free screenings at Longview Regional Medical Center feature both an echocardiogram and an electrocardiogram. An echocardiogram is a sonogram of the heart that is useful in studying the heart's anatomy. An electrocardiogram records the electrical activity of the heart and can detect rhythm disorders.

Combining the images of the heart structure with the recording of the heart enables cardiologists to better detect heart abnormalities, according to the foundation.

Denton said her son's screening showed no abnormalities, and that brought a sense of peace to her family.

"The screening helped to give us some peace of mind," she said. "The unknown is often what worries people the most. The screening helped us to eliminate one of these unknowns."

Teens typically do not need to be screened a second time unless an abnormality is found, according to Championship Hearts Foundation.

Denton said she would encourage parents to register their children for the free screening.

"All you have to do is take the time to register and show up," she said. "If one child is saved, it is worth it."

The Play It Safe teen heart screenings will be 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at Longview Regional Medical Center, 2901 N. Fourth St. in Longview. Though the screening is free, parents are asked to preregister at For information, call (903) 553-7400.



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