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Lee Health offering free pediatric EKGs that give insight into young hearts

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Over the past year in sports, there has been an uptick in cardiac arrest. Professional, college and countless high school athletes from across the country collapsed while on the field or court.

While CPR training and AED training could save a life in this situation, Lee Health offers another option for children and teens in our area to have their hearts checked before hitting the court or field.

Marcella McIntyre’s daughter plays competitive soccer outside of school but is also on her high school soccer team. McIntyre isn’t just a mother, she’s also a nurse. For her family, living healthy is a top priority, but for a couple of years she said, “she (daughter) was having some symptoms that were a little concerning, so we just wanted to rule out any cardiac issues.”

Lee Health is using the latest technology to make sure our kids are safe.

Dr. Eric Eason is a Pediatric Cardiologist for Golisano Children’s Hospital.

In 2017, cardiologists were given guidelines on how to screen young athletes and their hearts. Dr. Eason said the technology the healthcare system is using is an emerging screening tool.

“Every so often we hear those very drastic stories of where a child just succumbed in a sports field, didn’t know they had a heart problem and so that’s where screen EKG tools come into play,” said the cardiologist.

EKG is short for electrocardiogram. It’s a screening that involves doctors attaching a series of wires to your chest to get a better picture of what’s going on in your heart. Doctors are able to detect the rhythm, how the electricity goes through muscles and whether or not those signals travel at the right speed.

Studies show that 1 in 300 kids have a potentially life-threatening heart condition, whether that be an electrical problem, structural problem or congenital heart defect. Similar to McIntyre, that’s why she decided to get her daughter an EKG, to make sure her symptoms weren’t heart-related.

The best part about getting one at Lee Health, “once I found out that Lee Health offers the free EKGs, we went and did it. We didn’t have to have an order it could just be something I initiated on my own,” said McIntyre.

The free pediatric EKG screenings don’t cost parents a penny. Lee Health said that’s a testament to their commitment to promoting heart health and the State of Florida is on board too.

Dr. Eason said, “the state and the system the doctors, they’re all behind this.”

For McIntyre’s 17-year-old, her screening was successful.

“It showed that she was in normal rhythm for her age, a normal functioning heart, and now I have peace of mind and I know she’s good!” she said.

“Everybody needs to stay very well hydrated, lots of cold fluid before, during, after sports. But then if you’re having a symptom like that, maybe you should talk to your pediatrician,” said Dr. Eason.

Lee Health will have a free EKG mass screening event at the Family Fun Sports Expo at the Skatium in Fort Myers on November 11.

For more information and to register, click here.

Lee Health offering free pediatric EKGs that give insight into young hearts
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