Championship Hearts Foundation and Seton Heart Institute will offer free heart screenings for student athletes ages 14-18, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, December 20, at the Far West Medical Tower facility, 6811 Austin Center Blvd., Suite 410 in Austin. Active students who participate in athletics, cheerleading, marching band, drill team or other strenuous sports and are encouraged to get their hearts screened for possible deadly genetic heart conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).

“HCM is a genetic heart condition that usually doesn’t impair physical activity, but it is a set-up for a potentially fatal rhythm problem that could happen right on the playing field,” said Dr. George Rodgers, president of Championship Hearts Foundation, a Texas nonprofit agency.  “HCM is very difficult to pick up during a physical examination, but is very easily detected with an echocardiogram.”

The Foundation estimates 1 in 250 students is at risk for heart abnormalities that could potentially lead to sudden cardiac death. The Championship Hearts screening includes a 12-lead ECG and a limited two-dimensional echocardiogram (ECHO, or picture of the heart) to detect HCM, the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes. These tests are not included in standard pre-participation sports physical examinations. Both the ECG and ECHO are noninvasive, painless and valued at over $700. The Championship Hearts screening model is endorsed by the Texas Chapter of the American College of Cardiology as a quality initiative.

This free event is sponsored by the Texas Chapter of the American College of Cardiology. Additional support is provided by volunteer local cardiologists from the Seton Heart Institute and the complementary use of facilities and equipment at Seton Heart Institute – Far West.

Over 17,000 students have been screened by Championship Hearts since the program began in 2000, with approximately 1 in 20 being referred for further cardiac testing. Unless cardiac symptoms are present, a heart screening at age 15 or older is usually all that is needed.

Parents are welcome and encouraged to accompany their students during the tests. Online pre-registration is required and is now open at Students must have a signed parental waiver in order to receive the heart screening.  That waiver will be available at the event and is also available to print from the pre-registration website. Check-in will take place in the fourth floor SHI lobby and free parking is available in the main parking lot.

While there is no charge for the screening, a tax deductible contribution of $25 is appreciated to support the Foundation’s work. For more information or to volunteer, visit the Foundation’s website ( or phone (512) 900-3243 or (888) 884-6945.

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