Student heart screening set for April 23

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Mercy Health Muskegon has planned five high school student heart health screening events between late April and early August.

The first free screening event will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23 at the Mercy Health Muskegon Hackley Campus Youngberg Auditorium, located at 1700 Clinton Street in Muskegon.

A Monday release from Mercy Health Muskegon says the screenings could alert students to heart conditions that increase their risk of a “medical episode” during strenuous physical activity, like playing sports.

The release cited the deaths of Wes Leonard, who collapsed on the basketball court after sinking the winning shot for Fennville High School in March 2011, and Grandville’s Ryan Fischer, a 17-year-old hockey and football player who died in his sleep on March 7.

Wes Leonard and Ryan Fischer, both West Michigan High School athletes whose deaths were attributed to enlarged hearts. (March 7, 2014)
(Left to right: Wes Leonard and Ryan Fischer.)

Both had disorders or complications related to enlarged hearts. Doctors say screenings may have been able to detect the heart conditions and allow the teens to take preventative measures.

Mercy Health Muskegon’s heart screening program, which is made possible by partnership with Mercy Health Physician Partners West Shore Cardiology, Mercy Heart Center and Mercy Health Athletic Performance Center, started in 2011 following Leonard’s death.

Students who attend the screening will fill out a heart history questionnaire, have their blood pressure checked, undergo an EKG test, review with a doctor and get an echocardiogram, if the doctor finds it appropriate.

In all, it should take about 15 minutes, Mercy Health Muskegon says.

Within 10 days, parents will get a letter explaining whether their student is at low risk for a heart condition or if a followup visit with a doctor is necessary.

Participants must be in high school (ninth through 12th grades) and be born between Jan. 1, 1996 and Dec. 31, 2001. Participants must have consent from a parent or guardian. Registration for the free event is available online at Mercy Health Muskegon’s website.

There will also be heart screenings on May 21, June 18, July 16 and Aug. 6, though details of when and where have not yet been specified.

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