Non-Profit organization YH4L offers students ECG screenings

Young Hearts 4 Life provides health benefits, volunteer opportunities


Students check in at NC Vaughan gym to get an ECG heart screening on May 2 (Gee/LION).

Nina Ivancevic, Reporter

Young Hearts 4 Life (YH4L) is a non-profit organization that offers free electrocardiogram (ECG) heart screenings for high school and college students. It is painless, noninvasive and takes less than five minutes. YH4L has partnered with LT since 2011 and has screened 8,509 students, identifying 74 with undiagnosed heart conditions. The organization planned to host two screening days for LT students at both campuses on May 2 and May 9.

“The death of a young adult is not only tragic and devastating to the family, but to the school and community, too,” YH4L program director Denise Arenz said. “Most have no idea that 60 young adults die each week in the U.S. from Sudden Cardiac Death; that’s 3,000 people a year.”

YH4L strives to spread awareness about Sudden Cardiac Death and has a Junior Board that is made of high school students from around the Chicagoland area. The board hosts events each year to help educate communities about the risk and frequency of this issue, she said.

“Many are extremely athletic and healthy, so when this happens it is shocking,” Arnez said.

Overall, YH4L has screened about 300,000 students since 2006 and identified more 3,100 students with previously undiagnosed heart conditions. The ECG screenings are useful for detecting underlying heart issues and can prevent fatal injuries in many young adults. The overall occurrence is about 1:200,000 but can be as high as 1:3,000 per year in male college basketball players, YH4L medical director Frank Zimmerman said.  

“The majority who die had no idea that they had a heart issue, many never have symptoms either,” Arenz said.

By partnering with YH4L, LT brings a great opportunity to the community to have access to this specific healthcare issue, Associate Principal Greg Gardner said.

“This organization has been a great partner for our community and we hope many students take advantage of this event,” Gardner said.

LT strives to bring students opportunities that can provide additional support that are not always available in classrooms, he said. YH4L benefits the community by vocalizing the importance of taking precautions against Sudden Cardiac Death in young adults, as well as providing a way to prevent it by partnering with high schools and colleges all throughout Illinois and Indiana.

“[ECG screenings] can provide peace of mind for those who may have a family history of cardiac problems,” Gardner said.