At a glance
What: Heart Screens for Teens
When: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Pinecrest Academy, 955 Peachtree Pkwy.
Note: Those attending must make an appointment in advance by contacting Cheryl Farkas at (770) 826-9478 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student athletes are encouraged to get a low-cost heart exam during an event Saturday.
Pinecrest Academy is holding the biannual Heart Screens for Teens from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The event offers families the chance to have their athletes ages 11 to 18 to receive heart screenings for $65 through Ultrascan Inc.
Cheryl Farkas, mother of a former Pinecrest student who was diagnosed with a rare heart condition in 2009, organizes the screening event twice a year.
She said the echocardiogram test performed can cost between $1,200 and $1,500 at a doctor’s office.
“For people who maybe aren’t aware, the echocardiogram screens for abnormalities in the heart that can lead to serious problems, including death,” she said.
Thanks to a standard pediatric exam in 2009, Farkas’ son Matt was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM.
The condition is the leading cause of death among young athletes. It can occur with no symptoms or warning signs.
“It’s so important to have tests like these heart screenings and to keep up with your child’s yearly pediatric examinations,” Farkas said. “When [children] get to be older, people sometimes think they don’t need to, but if I hadn’t have kept up with Matt’s exams, we wouldn’t have known he had this.”
Today, her son is a healthy college student attending Georgia Tech.
“He still has doctor’s appointments three times a year, but he’s doing well,” Farkas said.
Vivian Heard, a Pinecrest spokeswoman, added that school leaders enjoy holding the events.
“Knowing that we had a student diagnosed with a heart condition, and that he could have died if he continued playing sports, really hit home,” Heard said.
“So we feel a responsibility to all our student athletes, not just at Pinecrest, but to all young athletes in our community.”
There are plenty of openings at Saturday’s Heart Screens event, Farkas said, but noted that anyone interested must make an appointment.
“This is the fourth time we’ve had a screening and we usually get about 60 students,” 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.