The Heartfelt Cardiac Project with a 10,000 donation from the Shauna Stuewe Foundation, is sponsoring “the first 100 kids to sign up at two PYLUSD high schools, Esperanza on May 18 followed by El Dorado on May 24, from 3:00 to 8:00 pm, to receive heart screenings for a reduced donation amount of $35,”explained Holly Morrell, Heartfelt founder and director of the Heartfelt Cardiac Project in an interview with the Matador Messenger.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is the number one killer on school campuses and youth playing fields, with about 450,000 lives lost annually, according to heartfeltprojects.org.
Students can sign up for the discounted physical which includes both an echocardiogram and electrocardiogram by registering at http://heartfeltcardiacprojects.org/schedule-a-screening/.
Adults and other students and siblings beyond the first 100 may also sign up for the screenings for a donation of $85 each. By registering online, participants can reserve a time slot, and receive verification of the appointment and an attachment with release forms for the screening.
According to Morrell, “all clear” results will be sent to parents or adults within two weeks with any urgent results sent much sooner.
PYLUSD families are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity because “the echocardiogram (cardiac ultrasound) and electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG) are the best two tools for detections of the general risks of sudden cardiac arrest and typically cost approximately $1,500,” Morrell stated.
About one in 230 children suffer from sudden cardiac arrest, according to sca-aware.org. Additionally, pre-sports participation physicals are simply inadequate in terms of cardiac evaluation as stated by the American Heart Association as far back as 1997, stated Morrell, who has had open heart surgery herself, adding that “early detection saves lives.”
“The Stuewe Foundation does this in memory of their beloved daughter, Shauna, who died of sudden cardiac arrest, while attending Esperanza High School,” explained Morrell. The screening effort was also initiated after Morgan Wilson, “another beautiful young girl, died from cardiac arrest while attending the school in 2014,” Morrell added.
Heartfelt Cardiac Projects has saved lives at Esperanza High School as a results of the previous tragedies. Rebecca Schulert, a BYMS alumni and Esperanza student, was prompted by the death of Morgan Wilson to sign up for the screenings in the fall of her freshman year.
Schulert’s testimonial at heartfeltcardiaprojects.org states, “Rebecca ran cross-country, played JV basketball, and ran long distant track for Esperanza High School. In the summer after her freshman year, a girl’s sister on her cross-country team, Morgan, died suddenly on the tennis court from cardiac arrest.”
“This event plus shortness of breath that Rebecca felt frequently when running longer distances in cross-country, (her doctor told her it was sports induced asthma and gave her an inhaler to use) troubled her often like something else might be wrong.”
“That fall, Heartfelt Cardiac Screening was offered at her high school campus and Rebecca felt the urge to be checked. The screening was easy and didn’t take long. Rebecca was told they saw an abnormality from the screening and she should see a cardiologist for more testing. Rebecca was diagnosed with Hydrotropic Cardiomyopathy (HCM).”
Schulert, who now volunteers for the organization, stated in an interview with the Matador Messenger that she knows that the screening saved her life. “I believe every student should take advantage of this screening opportunity.”
Dawn and Mark Schubert, Rebecca’s parents, have expressed their gratitude for the screening along with the testimonial at heartfeltcardiacprojects.org, ” We are so thankful that “We are so thankful we discovered this through Heartfelt Cardiac Screening. Rebecca’s life has changed… Her heart disease is managed now and she is being protected.”
One of the most common misconceptions about heart health issues is that it is least likely to affect young athletes.
“Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) does not discriminate [from old people] – it is the #1 killer of Americans – the #1 killer of women – and claims the lives of thousand of kids each year, reported Mrs. Morrell. “A young athlete dies from sudden cardiac arrest every 3 days in the US,” she further explained
SCA is often confused with a heart attack. “Although a prior heart attack increases one’s risk for sudden cardiac arrest, the two are quite different, with distinct risk factors, treatment options and outcomes,” reports heartfeltcardiacprojects.org.
A heart attack can be thought of as a “plumbing problem” in the heart. Cardiac arrest is caused by an “electrical problem” in the heart. It occurs when the heart’s lower chambers (ventricles) suddenly develop a rapid, irregular rhythm, added Morrell.
As a non-profit organization, Heartfelt Cardiac Projects is able to continue to provide screenings and save lives because of volunteers and monetary donations, such as the funds provided by the Stuewe Foundation.
“Heartfelt is appreciative of our volunteers, they are truly a great help. We are always looking for volunteers!…. both adults and students. Of course, as with most nonprofit, funding is the life-blood of our organization and were sincerely appreciate donations of any size,“ Morrell stated.
Heartfelt Cardiac Projects has posted testimonials of students whose lives have been saved by the screening sponsored by the organization. You can find these at http://heartfeltcardiacprojects.org/.