Wednesday, April 10, 2013

FREE Teen Cardiac Screening at Orange Glen High School

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is not a heart attack.  SCA results from an abnormality in the heart’s electrical system that causes the heart to stop abruptly.  It is fatal in 92% of cases if not treated properly within minutes with the use of Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and CPR.  Often times, SCA occurs suddenly without warning and results in the death of about 7,000 kids annually in the United States.  SCA is the number two cause of death in people under the age of 25 with athletes being more susceptible than non-athletes because SCA is 60% more likely to occur during exercise.

In some cases, there are warning signs of SCA, including unexplained fainting (particularly during or after exercise), lightheadedness, chest pain, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and a family history of SCA or unexplained sudden death under the age of 50.  The best defense against SCA is to prevent it before it happens.  The best way to prevent SCA is to be screened using an electrocardiogram (EKG) that can detect many of the heart abnormalities that can lead to SCA.  Often times, screenings are not completed on teens because parents believe it won’t happen to their children, there is no family history or the family pediatrician did not recommend screening.  Thanks to the work of the Eric Paredes Save a Life Foundation teens in the San Diego area have the opportunity to be screened for free for potential catastrophic heart abnormalities.

On April 21, 2013 from 9a – 3p volunteers for the Eric Paredes Save a Life Foundation will be providing free cardiac screenings for teens at Orange Glen High School. Screenings consist of a health history questionnaire, an EKG and if indicated, an echocardiogram. Remember, this type of screening is not part of your child’s annual pre-participation physical or annual well screening.  Additionally, if you sought to complete these tests on your own the potential cost could range from $90 - $1500.  If you’re interested in more information regarding the screening or to register for the event click HERE.  If the date and time of the Orange Glen event doesn’t work you can check the schedule other upcoming events.  Important things to remember about the screening:

  1. You must register in advance for the event online at
  2. You must download and complete the health packet and parent consent form.  This packet must be signed and brought to the screening by the teen in order to be screened. If you do not have the packet, you will not be screened.
  3. The EKG and echocardiogram do not hurt and are non-invasive techniques.  There are no needles.
  4. Every teen will complete an EKG.  An Echocardiogram will only be done as indicated.  The entire process takes no more than 30 minutes.
  5. Your results will be reviewed by the foundation’s medical director and will be mailed to you (and your parents) within a few weeks of the screening.  The results will clearly indicate what sort of follow up (if any) is necessary with your family physician.

The Eric Paredes Save a Life Foundation has made it their mission to prevent the tragic loss of teens to SCA through these free screenings.  Ultimately, the goal is to make cardiac screenings part of the standard physical exams for youth and equipping schools and other public venues with AEDs and staff trained in the use of AEDs/CPR.  Rhina and Hector Paredes formed the foundation in 2010 to honor the life of their 15-year-old son, Eric, who died suddenly due to an undetected heart condition.  Since its inception, Eric’s Foundation has screened nearly 7,000 teens in San Diego County, detecting a heart abnormality in 164 of them.  It will continue to screen teens until more standardized testing is in place.

“SCA is not a heart attack.  It’s an abnormality in the heart’s electrical system that may be detected with a simple EKG, but these screenings are not part of our kids’ regular checkups.  It only takes a few minutes to prevent a tragedy that can be a heartbeat away, so we are dedicated to doing all we can to make these screenings and cardiac equipment accessible to teens and their families.”
                                                                                    -Hector & Rhina Paredes

Submitted by Heather L. Clemons, MS, MBA, ATC

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