By Jenna Koch, entertainment editor 

All gym classes will have the opportunity to receive an EKG screening on February 14th. The EKG will cost 15 dollars, and students with free and reduced lunch are able to receive one for free.

An EKG, or electrocardiogram is a test that checks the electrical activity in the heart. According to Kathy Aykroid, Project Manager for the Max Schewitz Foundation, an EKG can detect 60% of possible heart defects. According to the foundation’s website, the highest age group at risk of sudden cardiac death is 17-22-year-olds. Some common issues for teenagers are irregular heartbeats, rapid heartbeats, and a variety of genetic conditions.

“Most of these are hidden heart conditions,” Aykroid said. “Some students have found they have a rapid heartbeat and say ‘You know what, I just never thought about it. I thought that was normal.’ No, it isn’t.”

The Max Schewitz Foundation was founded when Max Schewitz died at age 20 from sudden cardiac arrhythmia.  His friends and family started the foundation in his name to prevent deaths similar to Max’s. Max was a seemingly healthy young adult, which is the case for many teenagers who die from sudden cardiac death.

“It doesn’t matter what your background is, it doesn’t happen more to females versus males, or athletes versus non-athletes, it can happen to anyone,” Aykroid said.

While sudden cardiac death is a common cause of death for teens, Aykroid believes doctors do not do enough to try to prevent it.

“[Parents] cannot go to the doctor and say ‘I want my child to get an EKG.’ The doctor’s going to say ‘Well why do you want that,’” Aykroid said. “They’re not going to do it.”

EKGs normally cost an upward of 300 dollars and are only given to patients who show symptoms of heart conditions. Echocardiograms are also offered for free to students who may have a heart abnormality, students with a family history of heart conditions, and athletes. Echocardiograms cost several thousand dollars and are also only given if symptoms are shown.

While the prices of this test are high, the testing procedure is a fairly easy, according to The Max Schewitz Foundation website.Testing is painless and takes a few minutes. Test results will come via a phone call and will never be immediately shared with a student.  

Student Activities Director Frank Mirandola believes this is a very important opportunity for students, not only because of the low cost. He says it works well with all the work the PE department does to improve cardiovascular health, such as using polar heart rate straps. An EKG helps catch heart problems that cannot be improved or fixed with exercise and must be addressed by a medical professional.     

“This is for everyone. This is about a healthy lifestyle. This is about us going ahead and finding some undiagnosed heart issues that in most cases you won’t get tested for,” Mirandola said.

Parents can sign students up by visiting https://heartsmartekg.org/high-school-cardiac-screening and choosing “Register Now” under Prospect HS. Students are able to pay the 15 dollars in person at the screening, or families can pay online before February 14th.

“We’re asking you, for Valentine’s day, to think about yourself,” Aykroid said. “Think about taking care of your heart.”