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Heart Health for Student Athletes

Hundreds of high school and middle school student athletes are heart healthy to play sports as indicated by an electrocardiogram (EKG) that is an expanded option to the annual sports physical held on school campuses, thanks to the sponsorship and support of Blue Ridge Energy, UNC Health Care and Caldwell County Emergency Services.

“Caldwell County EMS has long been regarded as a premier agency for providing pre-hospital cardiac care and evaluations,” said Dino DiBernardi, Caldwell County Emergency Services Director. “Incorporating an EKG in the sports physical gave us an opportunity to improve individual healthcare and to give back to our community.” 

Heart of a Panther (Hibriten High School), Heart of a Warrior (West Caldwell High School), and Heart of a Spartan (South Caldwell High School) events were held in May and involved dozens of volunteers, school staff, and health professionals who worked to make this additional layer of health available to students.

Middle and high school students pre-registered for the event and returned signed permission forms to receive a free EKG that would be read by a local cardiologist. If an issue is detected during the EKG screening, parents are notified, and then only after a follow-up visit with the student’s physician or cardiologist can a student be cleared to participate in sports.

“We fully recognize and support this event that could save lives,” said Superintendent Dr. Don Phipps. “These added resources are for the health and well-being of our student athletes. We appreciate the efforts of our community partners to place students’ health as a top priority.” 

With a combined total of 630 sports physicals performed on school campuses in May, more than half or 345 students opted to receive an added layer of protection by getting an EKG. Many had received an EKG previously. The Heart Health program for athletes began in the Caldwell County Schools in the 2017-2018 school year and since then, more than 1,000 EKGs have been done on CCS student athletes.