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Free screenings seek undiagnosed cardiac issues for students

Morris Hospital offers Rhythm of Our Youth at Marquette, Ottawa High

A free screening to identify undiagnosed cardiac abnormalities in high school students aims to prevent sudden cardiac death.

Morris Hospital plans Rhythm of Our Youth cardiac screenings at two high schools this school year. The program will be at Marquette Academy's high school campus in Ottawa on Wednesday, Aug. 21, and at Ottawa High School on Tuesday, March 31, and Wednesday, April 1.

On the screening day, a team of trained volunteers from Morris Hospital perform electrocardiogram screenings for students who have received parental permission to participate. An electrocardiogram is a non-invasive, painless test that measures the electrical activity of the heart and detects certain heart abnormalities that can lead to sudden cardiac death, according to a news release.

Screenings are offered during physical education classes or study hall. The test takes about three minutes to complete.

Based on results of the screenings, about 3% of students are referred to a physician for additional follow-up. Typically, less than 1% are found to have a medical problem that requires cardiac intervention. Results are sent home to the student’s parents and are not shared with the school.

Sudden cardiac death kills more than 2,000 children and adolescents in the United States each year, according to a Morris Hospital news release. Most victims had underlying heart conditions that can be detected through a screening.

Rhythm of Our Youth launched in 2016 with funding provided by donors to the Morris Hospital Foundation.

Parents should complete an electronic consent form prior to the screening day by going to

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