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Company Tests School Children For Heart Issues

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- More than 3,000 young people die each year from sudden cardiac death. Sometimes, there are no warning signs.

A new company says its technology can help prevent sudden cardiac death. Screening America offers screenings that they say can catch potential heart problems early, and they have been traveling to schools around the Twin Cities.

Most parents agree, you can't put a price tag on peace of mind.

"I taught and coached for 30 years, and there's nothing worse than being in the hallways when you've lost a student," said Chanhassen High School athletic director Dick Ungar.

Paula Osweiler signed her 16- and 14-year-old sons up after hearing their high school was hosting screenings.

"Heart disease runs in my family, so I thought they are offering it, mine as well have it done," she said.

Chanhassen High School athletic director Dick Ungar says Osweiler was joined by 24 other parents who decided to sign their kids up. He says although 24 doesn't sound like a lot of parents, it's double the amount of parents that signed up last year.

"Any of these things that we can do to make things better for kids, safer for kids, give parents like myself a peace of mind, when we send them out the door, I think it's important to do," said Screening America's Doug Adams.

Screenings consist first of a patient health history, followed by a blood pressure check. Then technicians proceed to do an electrocardiogram. The last part of the screening involves a cardiac ultrasound.

The company says the reports are then sent to a "board-certified cardiologist" for review. The doctor is ultimately looking for an abnormal thickening of the heart wall.

"The parents will get a letter from the cardiologist suggesting that they should seek further treatment or that their student is good," said Ungar.

The Sioux Falls-based company has been around for a year and a half-and in that time, they've given screenings to more than one thousand students nationwide. While the concept of mobile medical testing is fairly new, those offering the service say they feel it's necessary, and could even save a life.

"We've had bad news for some parents, but the good news is that we caught it," said Ungar.

The cost of the screening is $89 for the first child and $45 for the second. The screenings are not intended to replace the annual physicals required by most schools.

Doctors at the American College of Cardiology say while these tests aren't harmful to have done, there's no scientific evidence they work to prevent future tragedies.

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