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Chad Foundation to provide cardiac screenings to local high school athletes

May 21, 2012
HOLYOKE — The Chad Foundation for Athletes and Artists will provide 200 cardiac screenings to high school athletes from Holyoke High School and local high schools in the area.
The screenings — an echocardiogram, EKG, blood pressure test, BMI (obesity indicator), and cholesterol and diabetes testing — help to detect lethal abnormalities such as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) and prevent Sudden Cardiac Death as well as identify potential cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension, obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes in school-age students. The screenings will take place on June 9 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Holyoke High School, 500 Beech St.
The screenings, which would normally cost $3,000, will be provided free. However, donations are greatly appreciated by the foundation as they allow further heart screenings to be provided for students in Massachusetts and other states. All donations are tax-deductible. This heart screening is honoring Holyoke's favorite son, Jonathan (Jonno) Gray, a graduate of Holyoke High School in 2011 who died suddenly in January 2012 while on his rowing machine.
The number one cause of Sudden Cardiac Death in young athletes is HCM, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (abnormal thickening of the heart muscle.) The abnormal gene exists in one in every 500 births. The CDC says 5,000 young people between 15 and 34 years die annually of Sudden Cardiac Death. African-American males are more prone to die from HCM than whites. A recent study of 249 teenagers found that 80 percent had an unhealthy buildup of cholesterol on artery walls, often the result of eating high-fat foods.
Between 1969 to1999, the obesity rate among Americans aged 18 to 29 more than doubled from 5 percent to 12 percent. One in three children who are born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes.
The Chad Foundation for Athletes and Artists will provide the screenings with the donated services of a team of local cardiologists, sonographers, technicians and nurses from Holyoke Medical Center. Also, volunteer sonographers from Pioneer Valley Cardiology of Springfield and Hampden County Cardiology Associates of Holyoke.
There will also be a CPR demonstration provided by nurses from Holyoke Medical Center and Holyoke High School.
Phillips Medical Systems, a leading manufacturer of hospital equipment, will provide state-of-the-art, ultrasound echocardiogram for the event. Cholestech equipment for cholesterol and diabetes testing is provided by The Chad Foundation for Athletes and Artists. Other major Community partners are the Kevin J. Major Foundation, NovoNordisk and Lifescan, Animas Corporation, part of the Johnson and Johnson Family, who will be providing the test strips and meters for glucose testing.
In the Chad Foundation Pilot Screening Program, three high schools in Holyoke were the first to participate in the event. Two hundred and fifty students participated in cardiovascular screenings for hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, arterial elasticity, and the echocardiogram.
Results form the screenings, found at least one-third of those students tested were at risk for one or more of the above cardio risk factors such as, high cholesterol levels, hypertension and raised blood sugar. These students were referred to their family physicians for follow up treatment.
The echocardiogram, which most insurance companies do not cover for prescreening athletic examinations, costs between $1,400 and $2,000, but the ultrasound test is considered by medical experts as the best diagnostic tool to detect structural anomalies such as Hypertophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a disease of the heart muscle which is the No. 1 killer in Sudden Cardiac Deaths in Young Athletes, and took the lives of young basketball greats, Reggie Lewis and Hank Gathers.
A recent survey done by researchers from University of California at Los Angles and the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation found more than 800 National Collegiate Athletic Associations have campus screening programs for potential heart problems that are inadequate, using doctors without cardiac training, and failing to ask key questions about family history, such as history of fainting, dizziness, exclusion of sports, history of premature cardiac death under 35 years of age. Chad includes cardio history in their questionnaires.
Countries such as Japan and Italy have been screening their athletes for years; the ECG was mandatory in order to play sports. The results of the Italian study, which screened 40,000 athletes over a 26-year period, are gaining much support globally.
Dr. Gaetano Thiene of the Padua Center for Sports Medicine said, "In over 26 yrs. of preparticipation screenings, Sudden Cardiac Death was reduced by 90 percent, which proves that preparticipation screening is a life-saving tool."
For more information on the foundation or its "Cardiovascular Screening Program for Student Athletes, contact, Arista at 917-334-1194, or visit the website, www.chadfoundation.org.
To participate in the Holyoke High School screening, contact, Melanie Martin, head athletic trainer at Holyoke High School, at 493-1640.
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