Health Report: Program Screens Local Teen Athletes for Potentially Deadly Condition

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Each year, it is estimated that thousands of teens lose their lives due to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). SCA is not a heart attack — it is caused by an abnormality in the heart’s electrical system that can easily be detected with a simple electrocardiogram (also known as an EKG).

Unfortunately, heart screenings are not a part of a regular child medical exam or pre-participation sports physical. The first symptom of SCA could be death, and in San Diego alone three to five teens die from SCA each year.

The Eric Paredes Save A Life Foundation, in partnership with Scripps Health, has a goal to provide 5,000 free cardiac screenings each year to local teens, including the homeless, uninsured and underinsured. During a mid-June event, the organizations provided screenings to a record 1,167 youth.

“We have discovered that about 1 in every 100 teens who we screen are at risk for SCA,” said Scripps Clinic cardiologist John Rogers, M.D., who leads the team of highly trained volunteers that does the screenings.  “We continue to screen more and more teens every year. We’re really proud to be partnered with the Save A Life Foundation to provide this vital community service.”

The volunteer team includes doctors, nurses and EKG and echocardiogram technicians from across the Scripps Health system. The screenings are non-invasive and include a health history, EKG and, if indicated, an echocardiogram. Parents are notified of the results for follow-up with their family physician.

The Save A Life Foundation was founded by Rhina and Hector Paredes after their 15-year-old son, Eric, passed away from SCA in 2009. Rhina is a registered nurse at Scripps Green Hospital.

The partnership’s long-term goals are standardizing cardiac screenings among youth; equipping schools with readily accessible, automatic external defibrillators; and providing training for students and staff. In addition to participating in the outreach events put on by the foundation, Scripps provided funding to the group in its inaugural year for the purchase EKG machines.

For more information, visit or call 858-240-5075.

Categories: Health