Health Plus: Free teen heart screenings - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health Plus: Free teen heart screenings

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

High school athletes may be the picture of good health, but their heart could be a problem waiting to happen.

That's why one area high school and hospital are teaming up to offer free cardio screenings for students.

As the longtime athletic director of Cedar Falls High School, Gary Koenen has worked with a lot of student athletes.

And when one of them collapsed at a cross country meet, he knew prevention was one way to prevent a repeat.

"That raised some questions, do physicals that students have before they go out for sports, does that cover heart abnormalities or not?" he said.

That's why Cedar Falls and Covenant Clinic Cardiology are teaming up to offer free heart screenings for students at the high school.

"In the United States every three days a young athlete dies by playing competitive sports," said Dr. Robert Palusinski, Covenant Clinic Cardiology.

One in 500 people will experience what's called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM.

The heart condition is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in high school athletes and usually has no symptoms.

"What we get from our parents, you know, our genes we can't control it so those guys have a lot of structural heart problems, electrical dysfunctions and this is what we get from our parents, 50% from mom, 50% from the father," said Dr. Palusinski.

"In a pre-physical that students have for athletics really doesn't cover the heart exam," said Koenen.

If you are a Cedar Falls High School student and would like the free heart screening, go to this website www.wheatoniowa.org/teenscreen to sign up.

The quick screenings will be held at the high school July 31 and August 1.

It includes a health history questionnaire, blood pressure check and electrocardiogram.

Results will be mailed home within a week.

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