Chelsea Community Hospital (CCH) is offering heart screenings to high school and college athletes in the community. The screening is designed to look for signs of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), the leading cause of sudden death in young athletes. This condition affects approximately one in 500 people and usually does not have any physical symptoms. The screening, which normally costs around $2,000 and is often not covered by insurance, is offered for $55 to student athletes as part of this community program.
The HCM screening was the first of its kind in Michigan and was developed by Drs. Frank Smith and Steven Yarows in 2003. Dr. Smith is a cardiologist with the Michigan Heart and Vascular Institute in Ann Arbor. Dr. Yarows is an internal medicine physician with IHA at Chelsea Community Hospital. Chelsea Community Hospital, in partnership with Saint Joseph Mercy Health System has provided 6 free mass screenings to local communities since 2003. The free screenings are typically offered once yearly with the next screening to be scheduled in the fall of 2011.
The screening process is painless and takes approximately 30 minutes. It includes: a review of health history, a blood pressure check, an electrocardiogram (or ECG) and an echocardiogram (or echo which is a noninvasive ultrasound of the heart). A physician and cardiologist will review the tests and the results will be mailed to each student within one week.
“HCM is a genetic heart disease that causes a thickening of the heart muscle. It is very important that we screen our young athletes for this condition because if left undetected, it can lead to sudden death. These students are in the prime of their athletic careers and it's imperative for us to help keep them safe and healthy, “ explains Dr. Yarows.
Young athletes represent the majority of fatalities from the disease because of the added exertion on the heart during exercise. HCM often has no symptoms and typical sports physicals do not include screening for HCM. The echocardiogram (cardiac ultrasound) is the best tool for detection of most heart anomalies, but is not covered by most insurance companies without a specific medical reason.
To schedule a $55 HCM screening, please call 734-475-3951, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.