SHORELINE, Wash. -- Sudden death in people younger than 35 is often due to undiscovered heart defects or overlooked heart abnormalities, according to the Mayo Clinic. While rare, it's often during physical activity, like playing a sport, and more often occurs in males than in females.
On July 24, Federal Way High School football player Allen Harris, 16, collapsed and died while participating in a summer conditioning workout at the school. The medical examiner's office determined that Harris died from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick making it hard for the heart to pump blood.
On Wednesday, roughly 250 local teen athletes got their hearts checked for free, thanks to the Nick of Time Foundation, which was founded by Darla Varrenti
In 2004, Darla's son, Nicholas, went into cardiac arrest and died in his sleep. She later learned he had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Most people with HCM have no symptoms and experience no significant problems, but for some, it can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, or abnormal heart rhythms.
“There was definitely one kid that we found something tonight so we’re really glad we found it. It’s something that needs more evaluation and something we need to monitor,” says Nick of Time Medical Director Dr. Jonathan Drezner.
The Nick of Time Foundation is providing parents and kids what the usual doctor’s office visit doesn’t; an EKG screening, CPR and defibrillator training and a chat with a sports medicine physician and cardiologist.
If they do find something concerning, the kids are immediately given an echocardiogram to evaluate the size and function of their heart.
Drezner says young athletes should have an EKG every couple of years between the ages of 14 and 24.
The Nick of Time Foundation has several free screenings coming up. Here’s a link to more info: https://nickoftimefoundation.org/programs/ecg-youth-heart-screenings/request-screening-appointment/