More than 300 students were screened on Sunday. Five were detected with heart abnormalities, three are serious enough to put them at risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
SAN DIEGO — One in 300 college students is at risk of undetected heart disease that can lead to cardiac arrest. To help detect it and prevent it from happening, more than 500 students signed up for heart screening at Kearny Senior High School.
It is an assessment that can help save a child’s life. All it takes is a nurse to screen a person’s heart to determine if their heart is healthy or if they are at risk of developing heart disease.
Last weekend, hundreds of students lined up to have their hearts checked by a nurse at Kearny High School.
The event was held to also help promote Senator Brian Jones’ bill to establish a free screening program for children in grades 5-12 in schools across the state.
“The deaths per year are common enough and notable enough to take preventable action. I think families should take this seriously,” Senator Jones said.
Once the law is signed, the Department of Education would contract with a nonprofit organization to administer the pilot program and provide data at the end of the three years for evaluation by the state.
“At some point we will make sure that every school in California requires cardiac screening, right now it is done on a voluntary basis by non-profit organizations,” Senator Jones said.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that approximately 23,000 people under the age of 25 die each year from ACS.
In most cases, it happens unexpectedly, like the Paredes family who lost their son Eric in 2012.
“We were packing for a cruise, and I went out to go to a doctor’s appointment. Eric’s father returned 20 minutes later to find his son dead.
No signs or symptoms, when I last saw my son he was fine. He was healthy, he had no signs,” Hector and Rhina Paredes said.
The traumatic experience took its toll on the family, but despite the tragedy, they have now set up a foundation to raise awareness. This foundation has helped hundreds of children at risk.
“It’s Eric, he changes lives. He changes the law and we just miss him,” the family said.
Now the students are taking a few minutes out of their weekend schedule for a cardiac exam.
“You never know when you may have a heart problem. you could be working out and the next thing you can just fall down and it’s scary. that’s why it’s so important,” said Kwali Wilson, who is a high school student and took the assessment.
Senator Jones and the Paredes family hope that very soon this will become a requirement in all schools.
WATCH RELATED: Heart Health Month and “SADS” Awareness (February 2022).