Program to screen teens for heart problems could come to WI

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GRAFTON -- The Ozaukee County Coroner says Joshua Davis-Joiner died of a heart condition called hypercardiomyopathy. The shocking tragedy leaves students at Grafton High School mourning. Seventeen year old  Davis-Joiner collapsed after basketball practice Monday.

An Illinois program called Screens for Teens is offering to bring EKG machines and volunteers to Wisconsin high schools to give kids heart screens.

The founder of the program, Mary Beth Schewitz, is actively bringing the tests to Illinois students free of charge. Her son Max died of an undetected heart condition. Schewitz told FOX6 news, "It's just like a sock in the gut. you just have a horrible reaction to loss of a young adult life in such a tragic potentially needless way".

In November we first told you about the program in Illinois, in which volunteers administer EKG heart tests to any high school student who wants one. Volunteer cardiologists read the tests and parents are told if something's not quite right. Mary Beth Schewitz is also looking for fifteen pediatricians who would take the EKG machines over the summer to give free tests to patients. Schewitz says, "We would provide the equipment, the training of their staffs, the postage, the interpretation and possibly a small subsidy to cover their staff time to do this."

Not all medical personnel believe widespread heart testing saves lives. Mary Beth Schewitz is convinced it does.

The American Heart Association says they have a twelve step recommendation for physicians to follow when screening teens for heart defects. In a study, released in November the Heart Association determined only six percent of physicians follow these recommendations, many who sign waiver forms so students can participate in athletics.