Next Beaumont Student Heart Check screening Feb. 4 at Dearborn High School
At just 15, Karl Wolski plays soccer and basketball at Dearborn High School and runs track for a club team in the city.
“As a high school athlete, my son pushes his body to the limit every day,” said his father, Rich Wolski. “We take all three of our kids to the pediatrician for an annual physical each year. But the Beaumont Student Heart Check offers another layer of protection to keep our son as safe as possible.”
At the next community screening Feb. 4, Karl Wolski will become Beaumont Student Heart Check’s 20,000th participant.
“Being chosen is definitely an honor,” said Karl Wolski, adding that seeing Buffalo Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin experience cardiac arrest during Monday Night Football earlier this month was eye-opening.
“It shows that medical emergencies can affect anyone at any time,” Karl Wolski said.
Although the NFL and a family spokesman said Hamlin has made remarkable progress, visiting the team facility nearly every day, he still has a long recovery ahead.
“We can’t control every outcome,” Rich Wolski added. “But it helps to know we are doing everything we can to prevent a possible, similar situation for our son.”
Corewell Health East’s free Beaumont Student Heart Check takes about one hour and includes a full medical history, blood pressure check, electrocardiogram, and a “quick-look” echocardiogram, or ultrasound image of the heart. Its primary purpose is to detect hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the leading cause of sudden cardiac arrest and death in student athletes.
“Whenever we hear of young athletes passing away during a game situation due to sudden cardiac arrest, we know that most, if not all, did undergo a traditional sports physical and were cleared to play sports,” said Jen Shea, manager of the Beaumont Student Heart Check program.
Corewell Health Dearborn Hospital cardiologist Dr. Rita Coram said detection is key.
“Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the walls of the heart are abnormally thick and the muscle cells are misaligned,” Coram said. “Not only can this block blood flow pumped out of the heart, it puts sufferers at risk for life-threatening, electrical heart rhythm problems.”
If your student athlete experiences light headedness, chest pain, uncomfortably racing heart, unusual shortness of breath, or fainting after exercise, don’t wait for a student heart check, Dr. Coram said. Make an appointment with your physician right away.
“We are so grateful to our doctors, who had the foresight to create a program that tries to prevent unnecessary deaths,” Shea said. “Without them, along with our generous donors and sponsors, including our media partner 97.1 The Ticket, we never would have reached this significant milestone.”
Registration is open for the next Student Heart Check screening on Feb. 4 at Dearborn High School, 19501 West Outer Drive, Dearborn.
There is no charge to participate, but appointments are limited and registration is required.
Students who take part in the screening and their parents will also receive training in CPR and automated external defibrillator or AED.
Since Beaumont’s Student Heart Check launched in May 2007, 6,708 people received hands-only CPR and AED training; 2,061 students were referred for medical followup; 223 were advised to stop playing sports until they followed up with a cardiologist, many from conditions such as Long QT, Wolff-Parkinson-White and other congenital heart conditions. Nine were diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
HCM is the single most common cause of death in U.S. athletes. Nearly 4,000 of these deaths are among young people, and one in 200,000 high school athletes will die suddenly, most without any prior symptoms. In addition, male athletes are 10 times more likely to die suddenly due to HCM.
Beaumont also offers resources for adults interested in assessing heart disease risk. This includes a free online heart risk assessment that can be completed in just minutes.