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Heart Screen Appointments Available for
Middle School and High School Students
in Study of Sudden Cardiac Death in Young People
Screenings being offered at no cost to parents

NOTE: Thanks to the many parents who have scheduled their children for screenings during Spring Break week (March 11-15), all available appointments have been filled. Beginning March 18, the Mobile Imaging Unit will return to the Houston Independent School District to screen students on HISD campuses. However, free appointments will be available for any Houston area high school and middle school students during the upcoming summer vacation period. Watch for details as they become available.

HOUSTON, TEXAS (March 7, 2013) - Doctors and researchers at the Texas Heart Institute (THI) at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital (SLEH) have announced that free heart screening appointments are open in the Texas Medical Center during the spring break week (March 11-15) to area middle school and high school students as part of a research program into certain difficult-to-detect, congenital heart abnormalities that are thought to predispose young people to Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD).

Tragic cases of SCD recurrently grab headlines, especially when it strikes young athletes during sports competitions or training. Young people stricken by SCD often have no warning or previous symptoms.

"Too often, we hear about a student/athlete who dies suddenly, without any warning in the middle of a game or at a team practice," said Dr. James T. Willerson, THI President and Medical Director. "It's a problem with tragic consequences, and we want to do more to address it. Our methods for detection are the most accurate known." 

THI Mobile Imaging Unit for Heart ScreeningsResearchers at THI's Center for Coronary Artery Anomalies use simple but comprehensive and accurate techniques to identify the carriers of potentially dangerous predisposing causes. This includes: 

1. a brief history (personal and of the family)
2. an electrocardiogram (ECG) and
3. a simplified screening program of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). 

Such study is being carried out on middle- and high-school-aged students whose parents agree to have their child screened. The testing process is completed in about 45 minutes. Parents are notified of the confidential results of their child's screening.  

The MRI machine uses magnetic fields to take quite accurate "pictures" of the heart and its blood vessels. The ECG machine makes a paper tracing that shows the heart electrical activity. Each of the tests is "non-invasive" and does not use any needles or medication. 

The MRI equipment, supplied by Philips Healthcare, has been fitted to a specially constructed mobile imaging unit. The program is underwritten by Rich and Nancy Kinder and the Kinder Foundation and Cameron.  

For an appointment, parents can contact the Center for Coronary Artery Anomalies at the Texas Heart Institute at 713-218-2112 or email

For media inquiries please contact:
Director of Public Affairs
Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital
Frank Michel  ♦  832-355-9510  ♦

For THI and St. Luke's media profiles, see Public Affairs.

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