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In honor of American Heart Month, Heart Hospital of Austin offers free heart screenings to students ages 14 through 18 each February. Screenings include a 12-lead electrocardiogram (EKG) and a limited two-dimensional echocardiogram, or ultrasound of the heart, to detect hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). More than 100 students were screened during our screening this month—which, coincidentally, was on Valentine’s Day!

HCM is a serious genetic heart condition in which the heart muscles thicken. HCM—the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes—affects one in 500 student athletes each year, often with no warning or precursory symptoms. Although the disease is relatively easy to detect, it can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated.

During the heart screening, an EKG and echocardiogram, which take about five minutes each, are used to test heart healthiness, and a cardiologist reviews results immediately after the tests are administered.

If your child missed an opportunity to get tested this month, the hospital also offers free heart screenings to student athletes each August—just as school is about to begin and sports ramp back up. Stay tuned for more information on our August heart screenings.

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