While few of us think of heart issues as something that could affect young people, an estimated one in three hundred school aged children suffer from an undiagnosed heart defect, many of which could lead to cardiac arrest and death. The risk of complications can be higher for students who are active in sports, gymnastics, dance, or other strenuous activities. Often the first warning sign is death. To help find these hidden abnormalities, Via Heart Project will conduct a free screening open to all young people ages 12-25 on Sunday, February 27, 2022 at SRJC Petaluma Campus. This county-wide event is offered through a community collaboration between the Petaluma Health Care District, SRJC Petaluma, The County of Sonoma, and Via Heart Foundation.
The screening is conducted by volunteer Bay Area health professionals, including cardiologists, sonographers, and nurses. It includes a health history interview, EKG test, and a focused echocardiogram. The entire process takes about 60-90 minutes, and is totally non-invasive—there are no needles or x-ray exposure. Each participant’s confidentiality, privacy, and individual modesty is respected throughout.
This screening is important because some 7,000 to 10,000 school-aged children die each year nationwide from sudden cardiac arrest, often from conditions that could have been detected in advance. Yet neither EKG nor cardiac ultrasound are included in the typical annual physical. Via Heart Project’s screening is supplementary to, but does not replace, an annual exam or school sports physical. Participants will also have the opportunity to learn hands only CPR and AED training during the screening.
“Any parent who has lost a child to a preventable health issue knows the pain of wondering what could have been done before it was too late. If we can prevent even one family from going through that pain, then what we have done is worth it,” said Liz Lazar-Johnson, Executive Director of Via Heart Project.