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Oakbrook Terrace-based Young Hearts for Life nears milestone

<p>The Midwest Heart Foundation finishes up their Young Hearts for Life Electrocardiogram screenings in at the Neuqua Valley High School Freshman Campus in Naperville during May 2009 &nbsp;| Sun-Times Media file photo</p>

The Midwest Heart Foundation finishes up their Young Hearts for Life Electrocardiogram screenings in at the Neuqua Valley High School Freshman Campus in Naperville during May 2009  | Sun-Times Media file photo

The Oakbrook Terrace-based Young Hearts for Life Cardiac Screening Program will screen its 100,000th student Friday at Montini High School for conditions that cause sudden cardiac death.

This milestone is a first for any program of this kind in the United States. Each week, sudden cardiac death claims the lives of more than 30 young adults in the United States. Young Hearts has been a leader the medical community to address this problem in the Chicago area.

The screening program was founded by Dr. Joseph Marek in 2006 and is well known for its model that uses trained community volunteers to deliver a low cost, efficient screening program. Marek has taught physicians across America how to run screenings for students and athletes. More than 10,000 community volunteers have been trained to provide students with free ECGs.

To date, over 1,700 students screened through the Young Hearts program have been identified as “at-risk” students. Of those, hundreds were found to have life-threatening conditions, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, long QT syndrome, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, Brugada syndrome, and arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia.

“We never set out to be the biggest — we just wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people,” Marek says. “The amazing growth comes because of the energy and commitment of our thousands of volunteers whose only goal is to save lives.”

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