Global Aviation’s President, Flo Newton, serves on the advisory board of the Providence Heart and Vascular Institute.

The words “sudden cardiac arrest” can strike fear in the hearts of most adults.  Now imagine being a young person.  The average age for sudden cardiac arrest in our youth is 17.  While causes of sudden cardiac arrest include coronary artery anomalies, Marfan syndrome, Commotio cordis and electrical irregularities, its leading cause is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, a heart condition that can be inherited and passed down from parent to child.

HCM can thicken the heart’s walls and cause irregular heartbeats.  While symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath and fainting, over 50% of the children who have HCM have absolutely no symptoms at all.  In fact, many who have the abnormality never develop a heart problem. But HCM affects 1 in 500 people.

The risk of developing problems related to HCM increase with age and can be caused by high blood pressure.  Increased physical activity, such as school sports have the ability to trigger an event.  That’s where Play Smart screenings come in.  Play Smart Youth Heart Screenings, which are offered free by Providence Heart and Vascular Institute in Portland, are quick, painless and free.   Young athletes fill out a family heart health history questionnaire, have their blood pressure checked and receive an EKG, which monitors the heart’s chambers and rhythms.  The entire procedure takes about 10 minutes, yet is more involved than the regular sports physical.  If an abnormality is found, the patient will receive further testing.

The free youth heart screenings are offered Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and the first Saturday of every month. Appointments are by registration only by calling 503-216-6800. For more information and to download the screening forms, please visit: www.playsmartgetscreened.org.

 

 

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