Free EKG's for Muskogee County athletes

Thursday, August 18th 2005, 10:26 am
By: News On 6

The American Heart Association reports heart disease is the number two killer of teenagers under 15 years old. Some heart conditions go un-noticed, until it’s too late. It's a problem one Oklahoma county is trying to combat.

News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims explains what they are doing to make sure athletes in Muskogee County are fit to compete.

Porum High School junior Derek Baucom is taking a different kind of test to make sure he's eligible to play football for Porum High. This test is given by a paramedic, not a teacher. And the subject is not what's in his brain, but what's going on with his heart. Derek Baucom: "it tests your heart and makes sure its ok to play football, make sure nothing's wrong with you."

Baucom and his fellow student athletes are taking part in a free testing program provided by Muskogee County Emergency Management Services. Muskogee County EMS Michele Hardesty: "We see on TV athletes collapsing during sporting events and we wanted to get out into the county and do something to prevent this."

So they packed up they're EKG's and headed out to Muskogee County high schools. Porum High School senior Racie Jackson: "there have been lots and lots of heart problems happening in every school and with this test it'll help people."

Looking up to the machine takes longer than the test itself. Once you're all hooked up it takes about 20 seconds to get a reading and they can give you a preliminary analysis right here.

Last year, they tested 890 student athletes. They found 25 students with abnormalities and they were referred to a cardiologist. Michele Hardesty: “its a good feeling to know that this was an unrecognized thing that's now recognized and these students are going and getting checked out to see what needs to be done."

And it gives this football player an added sense of security. Derek Baucom: “yeah I do because it keeps all my friends safe and makes sure I'm ok when I'm out there."

Each student ended up with an EKG summary. All of them will be read by a cardiologist to make sure the heart's beating the way it supposed to. All of the doctors are volunteers. Normally this test would cost about $100, but the students received it for free.