Column: Heart testing should be nationally integrated in schools

Heart screening is a process that should be considered by all schools across the nation. (Internet Photo)

Heart screening is a process that should be considered by all schools across the nation. (Internet Photo)

Eric Wong, Editor-in-Chief

For most people ages 13-17 years, it may feel like they are in the prime of their life. Much of the health issues that plague older people appear to be far down the road in life. Unfortunately, some of these teenagers might be afflicted with a disease that doesn’t make itself known until it deals its fatal blow: heart irregularities. Although many people consider abnormalities in the heart to be an exceedingly rare disease, heart testing is a straightforward way to prevent the disease.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 610,000 people died last year from heart complication. Some of those that died were in the prime of their life, and had not experienced any glaring symptoms. Some of the symptoms that do show, such as cold sweats and chest pain, can also easily be written off as being caused by other ailments. If heart complications remain untreated, it can accumulate into a sudden cardiac arrest, in which the heart stops functioning properly and bodily functions shut down. Oftentimes a cardiac arrest is fatal.

It may seem like heart complications often go undiagnosed; however, many of the irregularities are easily detectable with one test. An electrocardiogram test, also known as an EKG or ECG test, can determine irregular heartbeats or heart palpitations in a person’s heart. The test, usually administered in various doctor offices, involves the attachment of sensors to a patient’s chest in which the electric activity of the heart is measured on a graph in waves. Most tests take anywhere from five to ten minutes.

Because of the accessibility and ease of the EKG test, one should wonder why schools across the nation do not introduce and facilitate EKG testing for its students. Many students can find out if they do have a potentially fatal heart disease and if they are young enough to take action with the disease if they so choose. EKG tests are relatively cheap to administer, meaning that it should be financially accessible to all students. Encouragement to test should be implemented by the school to test, primarily through education on heart diseases.

Fremd is one of many schools across the country that promotes EKG testing in its facilities, yet many schools still refuse to administer the exams. One reason why heart screening is not widely used in schools is that there remains some who are opposed to exams for high school students, citing that heart disease is extremely rare, and a young person is less likely to have such ailments. However, one thing that isn’t accounted for is that in high school students are introduced to all kinds of stressors, namely athletics, that exert stress on the heart. If a student’s health is to be guaranteed, an EKG test is necessary.