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Johns Hopkins Holds Free Screening For Young Athletes

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Each year, hundreds of young athletes die suddenly from heart conditions and many don't even know they're at risk.

Andrea Fujii reports Johns Hopkins cardiologists are trying to prevent that and held a free screening Saturday.

Thousands of miles away from the London Olympics, the National Junior Olympic Track and Field championships are going on at Morgan State University. Though it's fun and games outside, inside the student center, it's serious business. Doctors are checking young athletes for heart conditions that can predispose them to sudden death.

"It's a protocol that we think is comprehensive and yet focused and it covers about 80-90 percent of the conditions that could potentially expose them to sudden cardiac arrest," said cardiologist Dr. Theodore Abraham.

Arista Burtrum's son died from sudden cardiac arrest. Now she's spreading the word about early detection.

"It's just the worst thing in the world to lose a child, and if he had had a screening he might still be here with us," Burtrum said.

There are no risk factors for this condition. It's strictly genetic and most often hereditary. Doctors say most people don't show any symptoms.

That scares Tony Allen, whose son Angelo is getting tested.

"It's best to have the screening just in case," Tony Allen said.

That's why Burtrum has helped 600 people nationwide get tested---to prevent another tragedy.

"It's your child's life. Just take a minute to do that," she said.

If you missed Saturday's screening, you can click here for more information.

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