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VCS, AdventHealth partner to screen student athletes for cardiac health

AdventHealth and Volusia County School Logos

DELAND, Fla., – Student-athletes from Volusia County Schools will for the first time be offered free electrocardiogram (ECG) screenings in addition to the annual state-required sports physical for middle and high schoolers, through a partnership with AdventHealth.

Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death among high school athletes, and the goal of the screenings, approved Tuesday by the Volusia County School Board, is early detection and treatment of heart abnormalities.

“Cardiac screening has the potential to save the lives of student-athletes, and we are very excited to start the program this summer, through our partnership with AdventHealth,” said VCS Superintendent Dr. Scott Fritz.

The ECG screenings will be offered free of charge at the AdventHealth sports physical event for students in June. The cardiac screenings, which can detect heart rhythm abnormalities, are voluntary for the 2021-2022 school year, but will be required for student-athletes beginning with the following year (2022-2023 school year).

“Through our historic partnership, AdventHealth has pledged to be a leader for best practices in sports medicine, delivering protocols and providing medical support that ultimately improves the health and safety of our student-athletes here in Volusia County,” said Erik Nason, sports medicine manager for AdventHealth.

Sudden cardiac arrest, typically caused by an electrical abnormality in the heart, is a leading cause of death among student-athletes. One in 300 student-athletes is estimated to have an undetected heart condition that puts them at risk.

Including heart screenings as part of student physicals, along with quick access to Automated External Defibrillators (AED), are among the best practices for preventing catastrophic sports-related injury, according to the Inter-Association Task Force for Preventing Sudden Death in Secondary School Athletics Programs.

In addition to the new cardiac tests, VCS purchased 30 additional AEDs last fall to ensure quick access at games, practices and other events in case of an emergency among students, coaches, faculty or spectators. Funding for the AEDs were provided through the school district’s partnership with AdventHealth, the Official Healthcare Champion of Volusia County Schools.

AdventHealth will offer the ECG screenings along with Who We Play For, a nonprofit that aims to eliminate preventable sudden cardiac arrest among students.

Registration for AdventHealth’s free sports physicals for student athletes for the 2021-2022 school year will open May 3. The free event will be held June 3-5 in the Rolex Lounge of the Daytona International Speedway.

In addition to the free event, families have the option of going to their personal physician for the physical and cardiac screening. For those who miss the free ECG screenings at the AdventHealth event, Who We Play For will also offer multiple ECG screening events at VCS’ 10 high schools for a small fee of about $20.