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St. Francis Hospital Offers Free Cardiac Screenings for Student Athletes

Next Screening Date Will be January 31, at the DeMatteis Center in Greenvale

As part of its mission in the community, St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center will be conducting free cardiac screenings of high school student athletes. The purpose of the program is to detect and assess potential cardiac abnormalities that can put a strain on an athlete’s heart particularly when he or she engages in strenuous physical activity.

The hospital held a successful pilot screening on Nov. 15, 2009; the next screening date is Sunday, Jan. 31.

“We’ve heard too many tragic stories of students collapsing on athletic fields because they had not been previously screened for underlying heart conditions,” says Sean Levchuck, M.D., director of pediatric cardiology. “We hope this program will help put the minds of parents and coaches at ease, by helping to prevent these episodes from occurring in the first place.”

The program is the brainchild of Richard D’Agostino, M.D., chief of orthopedics at St. Francis, who teamed with Dr. Levchuck and other hospital staff members to launch the program. “I have had the pleasure of being associated with a number of club and scholastic athletic teams here on Long Island,” says Dr. D’Agostino, “and from my experience, I could see how our hospital was uniquely positioned to provide a vital service.”

The assessments will be conducted on a quarterly basis. Students will be asked to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. During the screenings, several noninvasive diagnostic tests will be performed by St. Francis technicians including: Electrocardiogram (EKG): A test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of the heart. It translates this activity into line tracings on paper.

Echocardiogram: A diagnostic test that utilizes ultrasound techniques to provide a two-dimensional image of the heart and can detect many cardiac abnormalities.

Student athletes will then be seen by one of the hospital’s pediatric cardiologists who will conduct an assessment, review the findings of the tests and indicate if any additional evaluation is needed.

Screenings will be accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis. Anyone interested in participating in the program can call the hospital’s Community Outreach department at (516) 629-2038.