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Military recruits to be screened for heart conditions

The latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2024, which is expected to be approved by Congress, will require the United States military to screen recruit candidates for heart conditions. The provision requiring heart condition screening comes as sudden cardiac arrest has become the top cause of non-traumatic sudden death among U.S. service members.

According to, if the current version of the NDAA is approved by Congress and signed into law, the U.S. military will be required to start screening all potential recruitment candidates for cardiac anomalies in order to reduce the number of deaths caused by unidentified heart conditions.

Under the latest version of the NDAA, the Department of Defense would be required to launch a pilot program to check for heart conditions no later than next October. The pilot program would require electrocardiograms for any potential recruits who go through military entrance screening.

The NDAA would also require the Department of Defense to provide Congress with a report on the pilot program, which would include the cost of the program and the rate of cardiac anomalies detected by the heart condition screening process.

The proposed requirement for the Department of Defense comes after an electrocardiogram screening program previously used by the U.S. Naval Academy was introduced in the Air Force Academy and West Point in 2022, according to reported that the families of military members who died as a result of undiagnosed heart conditions have been instrumental in the push for heart condition screenings to be implemented throughout the military.

John and Laurie Finlayson, who founded the Lion Heart Heroes Foundation in 2014 after their 25-year-old son, Marine Lance Cpl. David Finlayson, died due to an enlarged heart during a battalion training run in 2013, have repeatedly urged Congress to implement a screening process for military recruits.

Laurie Finlayson said the provision included in Congress’s current NDAA bill is “very exciting.”

“We want what is best for every recruit. However they push this out, it gets more people screened, it gets good data out into the world, and it will make a huge difference in this whole movement going forward,” she said. “The military has been way, way, way behind, and I feel like my role has been bringing them up to speed on the technology and the difference it can make.”

While the possibility of a new screening process to detect heart conditions in military recruits has been met with excitement and approval by people like Laurie and John Finlayson, the Biden administration has expressed opposition to the proposal, describing the screening as “unnecessary” and arguing that it could result in increased cost and time for the recruitment screening process.

“The requirement may restrict the ability to effectively screen and process applicants at Military Entrance Processing Stations and establishes reporting and screening requirements that are unnecessary for the target age of the recruiting population,” the Biden administration said in a statement provided by the Office of Management and Budget.

Despite the Biden administration’s opposition to the legislation, the Department of Defense’s data shows that sudden cardiac arrest is currently the top cause of non-traumatic sudden death in the military, as reported by

According to a previous study, 108 of the 126 non-traumatic sudden military deaths were associated with exercise, with over 50% of the incidents involving the identification of a heart condition at the time of the autopsy.

Military recruits to be screened for heart conditions

Military recruits to be screened for heart conditions
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