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VIDEO: Annual heart screening event draws hundreds of local teens

Story and video by Sydni Fagan, FCUSD Communication Internship Program

The annual VIA Heart Screening Event took place at Cordova High School on Sunday, Feb. 24.

This event welcomed anyone ages 12-25 and sent them through various stations where volunteers checked blood pressure, height, weight, and participants are taught CPR and how to use an AED. Volunteers also check up on teens’ health history, perform an EKG and have participants talk to a doctor about their results. Testing like this would normally be upwards of $500-$6,000, but this organization provides this service, completely free.

One in 500 school-aged children suffer from an undiagnosed heart defect that can result in sudden cardiac arrest. At every screening, an average of 3-4 students are found to have an undiagnosed condition. At Cordova High, 456 people were screened (43 of which were walk-ins), 39 required follow-up and 6 had serious cardiac findings.

“This is something people should take advantage of,” said Marilyn Rakow. Marilyn lost her grandson, Race, to a preventable heart condition. Race was an aspiring architect when he passed away in his sleep at the age of 19 due to Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

Benjamin Gottstein, 12, came because he had heart issues when he was younger. He thinks that if you come to this event, you have an advantage others may not.

The VIA Heart Project’s goal is to “create Heart Safe Schools and discover undiagnosed issues before they lead to cardiac arrest in thousands of our youth.” The entire process takes 60-90 minutes and could save your life, a friend’s life or a peer’s life.