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Young athletes receiving free heart screenings

LAPORTE, Ind. -- The sudden death of 17-year-old Jake West due to an unknown heart condition shocked the LaPorte community. Now doctors are stepping up and offering free heart screenings to young athletes.

The LaPorte Heart and Vascular Center is giving free heart screenings to any LaPorte athlete over the age of 15.

"When you are in competitive sports, the discharge to the heart is high, in other words the heart is stressed," said Dr. Rishi Sukhija, Cardiologist with Indiana University Hospital.

Dr. Sukhija says that although heart disease is uncommon for this young age group, a 15-minute heart exam can pick out athletes who might be at risk for heart disease and start early treatment.

"We want to screen these individuals and identify these individuals so that they can be treated and hopefully prevent sudden deaths and save precious lives," said Sukhija.

Doug Hynek performed the tests on the athletes.

He says first they do a limited echocardiogram 

"This rules out anything that would stand out quickly to us," said Hynek. "The heart function, the heart structures, the valves, looking at the thickness of the heart muscle."

Then an electrocardiogram.

"We look at the electric activity of the heart," said Hynek.

All at no cost to the athletes or their parents.

"It's a free screening right now, and just awareness," said Hynek.

The screenings are on a first come first served basis. They will continue through November 2.

They have a total of 250 slots and as of this afternoon, they only have 4 available left.

For information about the heart screenings, contact the LaPorte Heart & Vascular Center at (219) 326-2626.

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