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Health

Rhythm of Our Youth program returns to high schools

Cardiac screenings seek out undiagnosed abnormalities

Morris Hospital will be returning to several high schools with its free Rhythm of Our Youth cardiac screening program during the fall semester. The purpose is to prevent sudden cardiac death by identifying students who may have undiagnosed existing cardiac abnormalities.

The program launched in 2016 with funding provided by donors to the Morris Hospital Foundation. Morris Hospital volunteers have screened more than 4,500 students.

Screenings will be:

• Tuesday, Sept. 18, at Morris High School.

• Wednesday, Oct. 10, at Newark High School.

• Tuesday, Nov. 27, at Seneca High School.

Screenings are typically scheduled during physical education class or study hall.

The 2018-19 schedule also includes screenings at Gardner-South Wilmington High School, Coal City High School, Minooka High School south campus, Premier Academy and Minooka High School central campus.

A team of specially trained volunteers perform electrocardiogram screenings free of charge to students who have received parental permission to participate. An ECG 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. The test takes about three minutes.

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

Last school year, screenings took place at Dwight, Yorkville, Yorkville Academy, Reed-Custer, Wilmington and Ottawa high schools. Volunteers will return to these schools during the 2019-20 school year.

“Sudden cardiac death claims more than 2,000 lives of children and adolescents in the United States each year,” said Jori Christensen, director of cardiovascular services at Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers. “Most victims of sudden cardiac death have had underlying heart conditions that could have been detected through a simple ECG. The goal is to help identify students who may have an undiagnosed heart problem before a serious incident occurs.”

Parents should complete an electronic consent form prior to the screening day at their child’s school by going to morrishospital.org/rhythmofouryouth.

Volunteers are needed on each screening date and must be at least 18 years old, pass a background check and attend a mandatory training session. To volunteer at the screening, call 815-705-7022 or complete the volunteer sign-up form at morrishospital.org/rhythmofouryouth.

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