In November 2013, Peyton Walker, a Central Pennsylvania college student died from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) caused by a rare genetic heart condition. In her memory, family and friends established the Peyton Walker Foundation to increase awareness and improve survival rates for SCA incidents by working with local health care organizations to provide free heart screening clinics, AED and CPR training and donate AEDs.
This fall, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health and Peyton Walker Foundation hosted a heart-screening clinic for students ages 12-19 at Donegal High School, in Mount Joy. Thirty LG Health employees, including nurses, cardiologists, technicians, and a sports medicine physician – working with staff and pediatric cardiologists from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) – provided free heart screenings for more than 125 students.
“This is a great opportunity for us to screen student-athletes who are balancing school and activity schedules. Our goal is to help students and families identify any pre-existing conditions that put them at risk, so that preventive care can be administered before SCA occurs,” said Scott Trunzo, director of Non-Invasive Cardiology. “This collaboration of resources between Peyton Walker Foundation, LG Health and CHOP is a great example of how we can screen kids within our community and improve their cardiovascular health.”
As part of the free testing, each student went through various stations that help rule out any irregular cardiac results, including private electrocardiograms (EKG) and Echocardiography exams. Once testing was complete, a pediatric cardiologist reviewed the tests. If there were any abnormal results, the student was scheduled for a follow-up appointment for further testing prior to leaving. The students and their families also had an opportunity to participate in CPR and AED training, which are instrumental to saving lives in the community during cardiac emergencies.
“While it may be overwhelming for a child and parent to hear that they have an abnormal result, we typically find that the majority of irregular tests come back normal and the student is healthy,” Trunzo said. “For those with abnormal results, we are able to connect them to appropriate testing and specialists quickly and support them as they get answers.”