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Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the Number One Killer of Student Athletes. AdventHealth, Volusia County Schools Want to Change That With Free Screenings.

Photo: Braden Collum
Photo: Braden Collum

AdventHealth is partnering with Volusia County Schools to offer all middle and high school student-athletes free heart screenings called electrocardiograms. The quick, painless screening can pick up heart abnormalities that left undetected could lead to life-threatening sudden cardiac arrest. 

AdventHealth's Erik Nason says he expects they might find potentially deadly abnormal heart rhythms in 17 students out of the 900 they screen.

Nason says that might seem like a small number but it could save those students’ lives by helping them get the treatment they need.

“It will save the lives of those individuals because now they’ll know there’s an underlying condition in their heart that I hate saying it but it’s like a ticking time bomb. You don’t know if there’s an abnormality.”

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The screenings are voluntary for students this school year, but will be required for all middle and high school student-athletes in the county during the 2022-2023 school year. 

Nason says these screenings will be offered in June during free state-required sports physicals.

“It’s like having your house wired incorrectly and there could be a short, or there could be a blown breaker, or something that could, a surge that could affect your home’s equipment. It’s the same thing with your heart. If something’s not functioning right the heart quickly shuts down and stops. Which is obviously not a good thing. And we want to be able to prevent that.”

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Volusia County Schools has also purchased 30 new AEDs for teams to use during practices or games to respond to heart-related medical emergencies.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.