HeartSmart EKG brings important testing to BG


HEART TO HEART: According to the CDC, 2,000 seemingly healthy young people in the United States, under the age of 25, die each year of sudden cardiac arrest. This underscores the need for the development of early detection to increase survival rates.

One in 300 people have a heart problem that could lead to cardiac arrest. The company HeartSmart recently conducted testing where 90% of those threats can be caught, and then taken care of before the heart disease can cause anymore damage. 400+ students from BG have taken the EKG test. 

HeartSmartEKG is run by the Max Schewitz Foundation which is a nonprofit, charitable foundation started by Max’s family and friends after Max died from a sudden cardiac arrhythmia at age 20 in 2004. According to their website, the foundation has two missions: to support the education, prevention, and research of sudden cardiac death in young people and to support environmental conservation which was a lifelong interest of Max’s.

“EKG’s are something that is relatively new to the last 10-15 years or so,” Associate Principal, Robert Hartwig said.  

According to school nurse Shannon Niemi, when she graduated from high school in 2003, EKG testing was not offered at school.

“High schoolers getting an EKG is a great idea since cardiac issues can go undetected until there is an emergency,” Niemi said. “Even if the EKG company screens one student that has a cardiac issue, it’s well worth it.” 

It is always good to be safer than sorry, but kids/teens are not the ones who can have hidden heart problems 

“When I worked in the hospital there were many instances of young adults having an undiagnosed heart condition that led to other health problems,” Niemi said. “Early detection by EKG would have been very useful for those patients.” 

When most people think of these tests, they may assume that this is the kind of exam that needs to occur every one to three years, however, for most people this is not the case.

“You don’t have to get an EKG every few years unless you have a cardiac condition, concern, or it’s recommended by your primary health care provider,” Neimi said. 

According to freshman Aarav Patel, who recently participated in the EKG testing, one does not have to give up much time to get this potentially lifesaving test done.  The opportunity to get this accomplished at school should certainly be welcomed.  

“It is important because you could find out if you have heart problems,” Patel said. “It only takes up 10-15 minutes of your time for something that could save your life.”