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Free youth heart screening event

Posted 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, 2024

An electrocardiogram (EKG) is a quick test to check the heartbeat.

5-10 minutes of time can save a life

One in 300 youth has an undetected heart condition that puts them at risk for sudden cardiac arrest, according to the American Heart Association.  
A free heart screening event from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at UW-La Crosse aims to prevent sudden cardiac arrest in youth athletes. All community members ages 10-25 are invited to sign up to receive a free electrocardiogram, or EKG, at UW-La Crosse’s Mitchell Hall Fieldhouse. Up to 250 people will be screened during the event on a first come, first served basis. Register ahead of time to secure a spot at Walk ins will be allowed if space is available.  
The screening, hosted by UWL's Exercise and Sport Science Department,  is made possible through a $5,000 grant from Mayo Clinic Health System. Screening equipment and professional cardiologist review of the EKGs is provided by Who We Play For.  

Jacob Caldwell, an assistant professor of Exercise and Sport Science, highlights the overlooked risk of heart issues among youth, especially those engaged in sports or physical activity. Sudden cardiac arrest, where the heart stops pumping, poses a risk to this demographic. Despite the availability of EKGs at hospitals to detect such risks, few individuals opt for them due to cost, time, and perceived low risk. However, since the condition is often undetectable without an EKG, awareness is crucial, and the free screening event aims to solve this issue. 

“There are no visible warning signs for risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Through this event, if your little one is at risk, you’ll know. You won’t have to guess,” says Caldwell. “By engaging during an earlier timeframe, it provides an earlier window for prevention of a future event. This is an easy, convenient way to do it …I see nothing but green lights.”  

EKGs take approximately five minutes, are painless, and the results can be lifesaving. UWL’s Clinical Exercise Physiology graduate program students will administer the EKGs in coordination with graduate program faculty. Administering EKGs is a regular task as part of the program curriculum.  

This is not the first time the CEP program has assisted the community in improving cardiac health. The long-running La Crosse Exercise and Health Program offers Adult Fitness and Cardiac Rehabilitation programs for community members on the UWL campus that are all medically supervised and staffed by students in the Clinical Exercise Physiology master’s program


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