Every year thousands of seemingly healthy young adults die from hidden heart conditions leaving behind heartbroken families, friends, and communities. Max Schewitz appeared to be a fit and healthy 20-year-old the day he collapsed and died from a hidden heart problem. After such tragedies, people ask “Isn’t there a way to find these kids before they collapse and die?” An EKG test can help!
An electrocardiogram, also known as an EKG or ECG is a visual representation of the heart’s function, including conduction and anatomic features. It is completed by placing electrodes on the limbs and the chest, connecting those to the EKG machine and pressing “start”. It’s quick, and painless and can detect many potentially life-threatening heart condition. While not perfect, an EKG can detect markers for about 60% of the conditions that can lead to sudden cardiac death. Not every condition can be detected by EKG and not every condition appears on every EKG, and some heart conditions are progressive and may not show on an early EKG, but may on a later one. Bottom line: a single EKG can’t catch everyone at risk, but it can catch many. Better yet, every heart condition has a treatment plan to avoid sudden cardiac death.
Like any screening test, an EKG needs to be repeated to monitor changes in the heart. High school is an ideal time to get a baseline EKG since the greatest risk of sudden cardiac death is between ages 17 and 22. Catching and treating a heart condition before it worsens or becomes life threatening means these kids can expect to lead a normal lifespan rather than become a sad headline. We recommend that young adults get an EKG every two years from age 14-28, and any time symptoms appear.
An echocardiogram uses sound waves to allow the cardiologist to look at the function of the heart. The echo is used to detect some conditions that might not show on the EKG, to clarify findings on the EKG, and to rule out or confirm the presence of cardiac conditions reported on the cardiac health history. Participants thought to benefit from this additional test, which is provided free on test day, are selected by the cardiologist.
All participants receive an EKG. Some will also receive a limited echocardiogram, also known as an echo, and have their blood pressure checked.
We neither bill insurance carriers nor report results to insurance companies.
We strive to provide high-quality, low-cost cardiac testing and rely extensively on volunteers to achieve our success. Even so, we have real, unavoidable costs which vary by screening type and services provided. Typically, on-site screening costs range from a low of $15 per participant to about $50 per participant. Please contact Kathy@heartsmartekg.org for specific pricing information.
The quality of the EKG interpretation can make a difference between missing a critical finding or misreading a benign EKG as abnormal. The Max Schewitz Foundation’s medical director and supporting cardiologists have interpreted almost 90,000 EKGs of young adults for us. The CardeaScreen EKG machines are programmed with the latest international criteria for interpreting EKGs of young athletic adults. This provides an optimum balance of catching potentially fatal heart conditions while minimizing false negatives and false positives.
Click here to download a Pediatric Risk Assessment developed by Dr. Robert Campbell of Children’s Sibley Heart Center. Fill this out with your child and bring a completed copy to your child’s annual physical. We encourage you to talk to your physician about your family’s health history, your child’s personal health history, and the role of EKG testing for your child.