Local teens who participate in school and community sports can be screened
for potentially fatal genetic heart conditions as part of a new program
at St. John’s Medical Center this fall. Medical studies demonstrate
the value of a heart screening at around age 15 for youth involved in
athletics. “Our full-time cardiologist, Dr. Ellen Gallant, participated
in heart screening programs prior to joining St. John’s. When she
approached us with her idea to bring screenings to teen athletes in our
community, it immediately felt like something we wanted to do,”
says director of community relations Karen Connelly. “We envision
an annual screening clinic for teens entering high school,” says
Connelly. “We may hold additional clinics in 2016-17 to catch up
with the demand, since it hasn’t been offered here before.”
At the clinics, athletes ages 14 to 18 are screened for genetic conditions
including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). “HCM usually goes undetected,”
says Dr. Gallant. “It can be difficult to pick up during a routine
sports examination but is easily detected during the painless tests offered
during the clinic.” It is estimated that one in 250 students is
at risk for potentially fatal heart abnormalities.
St. John’s is modeling its screenings after the Championship Hearts
Foundation program, which has screened more than 20,000 students since
2000. The screening includes tests that are not part of a standard sports
physical and is provided at no charge, thanks to support from St. John’s
Hospital Foundation and Shirley’s Heart Run. St. John’s is
pleased to have Teton County School District as a program participant.
If the screening indicates that additional testing is necessary, St. John’s
Medical Center will work with Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt
Lake City, Utah, for follow-up care. In addition to Dr. Gallant, St. John’s
visiting pediatric cardiologist Dr. Jason Su also has volunteered his
time to help with the clinic.
GET YOUR TEEN SCREENED. For clinic dates and
times, visit tetonhospital.org/teenheart.