BHS athletic training department offering free cardiovascular testing for students Tuesday, Jan. 16

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Students at Bullard High School will have the opportunity to participate in an event aimed at alerting them and their parents to any possible hidden heart conditions, as the Bullard High School athletic trainers will host a Cardiovascular Testing event 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16, at the BHS Field House.

“This is a great opportunity for the Bullard High School athletic trainers to host an event dedicated to providing safety to our students and athletes,” said Jeff Shrode, Bullard ISD head athletic trainer. “With all of the cardiovascular issues and problems present in athletics or other activities, this is a step to make sure everyone is safe by examining students for any signs of trouble.”

The partnership with Bullard ISD and the Brandon Goyne Foundation and Wimbledon Athletics will provide cardiovascular testing on school grounds for athletes and students who participate in sports and high-endurance activities, such as marching band, cheerleading, drill team, and dance.

According to Shrode, the cardiovascular issues students may have, either while competing in athletics or just attending school day-to-day, can be hidden from view, such as the case in the death of Alto football player Cam’ron Mathews, who collapsed and died on the football field during a game against Carlisle.

“The testing is just one more in a line of defense,” said Shrode. “If the testers find anything, whether it be a false positive or a positive, we want to get these students to a cardiologist and find out what’s going on. Maybe we’ll be able to find something they didn’t even know was going on, and it will save their lives; that’s the ultimate goal.”

Tests performed on students during the event will include EKGs and echocardiograms, used to detect heart abnormalities that can cause sudden cardiac arrest and non-invasive vascular ultrasound to identify vascular conditions common to athletes (such as blood clots).

Qualified sonographers (technicians) will perform the tests professionally and maintain the privacy of each student, with board certified reading cardiologists, pediatric cardiologists, and radiologists interpreting test results and reporting detailed findings.

If anything significant is identified during the students’ testing, the parent/guardian of the student will be notified by officials immediately.

According to Shrode, the event is primarily focused on the high school ages of students, but he hopes the program will be able to hold a testing day in the future at Bullard Middle School. The testing is not just limited to athletes, as Shrode said any student attending BHS is able to be tested.

According to Wimbledon Athletics, sudden cardiac arrest is caused by an abnormality in the heart’s electrical system or structure that abruptly stops the heartbeat, and is fatal in 95 percent of cases. Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death on school campuses.

The American Heart Association reports that every three days in the U.S., a young athlete dies from sudden cardiac arrest. Studies indicate the risk for sudden cardiac arrest is three times higher in competitive athletes than in non-athletes.

For 80 percent of kids, sudden cardiac arrest will be the first sign something is wrong, according to Wimbledon Athletics. The majority simply do not experience any symptoms indicating a heart problem. Others believe shortness of breath or dizziness is caused by exertion and will work harder to get stronger, putting their lives at risk. Published studies estimate that pre-participation screening (history and physical exam) only catches between three and 15 percent of cardiac problems.

According to Wimbledon Athletics, students participating in the cardiovascular testing should wear baggy shorts for the testing. Female students should wear a sports bra without an underwire. Students should not use lotions, bath oils, or creams prior to testing, while also avoiding tobacco and caffeine two hours before testing begins. Students should not take anti-inflammatory medications at least 4-6 hours prior to testing.

The complete testing at the event could take between 60 to 90 minutes to complete.

There are no upfront costs for the testing. Wimbledon Health Partners will bill health insurance for the services provided, accepting what your carrier deems usual and customary. As required by law, WHP will bill for the deductible or co-insurance, if applicable. If a balance is due, WHP can offer a payment plan or can eliminate the balance entirely for those in genuine hardship situations.

According to information made available by Wimbledon Athletics, there are a number of circumstances that could qualify you for a waiver, including saving for college.

Students or parents of students wishing to register for the cardiovascular testing at BHS will need to visit www.wimbledon healthpartners.com/bullard to learn more information. To register, click on the “Schedule Appointment” link to reserve one of the limited number of appointment times for testing. Also click on the “Complete Paperwork” link to provide demographic and insurance information for students. Paperwork must be submitted no later than one week prior to testing.

For more information about the BHS athletic training cardiovascular testing event, contact Shrode at (903) 894-3272 or jeff.shrode@bullardisd.net.

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