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Heart screen event offers parents 'peace of mind'
Held March 17 at Pinecrest Academy
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Forsyth County News

At a glance

Heart Screens for Teens is set for 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. March 17 at Pinecrest Academy, 955 Peachtree Pkwy. Cost is $65 per screen and appointments should be made by March 15 by calling Cheryl Farkas at (770) 826-9478 or e-mailing

Parents of young athletes are encouraged to take advantage of a heart screening event.

Pinecrest Academy will hold its fifth biannual Heart Screens for Teens event from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. March 17 at the school.

Cheryl Farkas began organizing the event after her son, Matt, was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, in 2009 during a standard pediatric exam.

He was a football player at Pinecrest before the diagnosis.

The condition is the leading cause of death among young athletes. It can occur with no symptoms or warning signs.

Today, Farkas’ son is a healthy college student at Georgia Tech.

“He still has several doctor appointments each year and can’t do any strenuous exercise, but he’s doing really good,” she said.

She said she believes word is getting out about the importance of heart screens for young athletes.

“There does seem to be a lot more awareness of the condition as far as kids needing screens,” she said. “A lot of schools are becoming very proactive about it.”

Farkas said every screening event, which is open to athletes at any school, has typically drawn about 50 to 60 students.

While there are plenty of slots available for the March 17 screening day, Farkas said an appointment is required.

“They have to call or e-mail me before March 15 to schedule a time,” she said.

Confidential results of the test, which is conducted by a registered technician, are analyzed by a board-certified pediatric cardiologist and given to parents.

Any child found to have abnormal test results is referred to the family’s doctor for medical follow-up.

Each echocardiogram screening costs $65, which is a large discount over the typical cost of the exam in most doctors’ offices. Farkas said it can cost as much as several thousand dollars.

“That’s part of what makes this such a wonderful service,” she said. “But the main thing is that it gives parents peace of mind.”