Heart of the matter: Louisiana nonprofit sees more interest in heart testing after Damar Hamlin’s collapse

The nation rallied around Buffalo Bills football player Damar Hamlin nearly three weeks ago when his heart stopped after a tackle during a game and he collapsed on the field.

Hamlin is now recovering at home and still faces a lengthy rehab.

However, if there’s any good to come from his medical scare, it may be renewed attention to keeping student athletes safe, experts say.

TEE HIGGINS LOOKING FORWARD TO A ‘HAPPY REUNION’ WITH DAMAR HAMLIN, SHARING ‘LAUGHS AND LAUGHTER’.

Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in young athletes.

And a Louisiana couple is making life-saving screenings more accessible to families.

Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in young athletes, and today a Louisiana couple is making life-saving screenings more accessible to families.

Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in young athletes, and today a Louisiana couple is making life-saving screenings more accessible to families.
(iStock)

“An incident like this makes you realize that we have to revitalize, keep pushing, keep educating,” said cardiologist Dr. Steven Kelley of the Baton Rouge area.

For 15 years, Dr. Kelley and his wife Danielle have been champions of heart screenings.

Studies show that one in 300 students are at risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

After one of their children’s classmates died during a basketball game, the couple pledged to use their medical records to provide free EKGs and echocardiograms to students.

They do this through Jump Start Your Heart, their non-profit organization.

Dr.  Steven Kelley of Louisiana is shown performing an echocardiogram, which allows him to see his patient's heart.  Since 2008, the Kelleys' nonprofit has screened more than 7,000 students for heart conditions, all free of charge.

Dr. Steven Kelley of Louisiana is shown performing an echocardiogram, which allows him to see his patient’s heart. Since 2008, the Kelleys’ nonprofit has screened more than 7,000 students for heart conditions, all free of charge.
(Fox News)

“We screened over 7,000 students,” Danielle Kelley told Fox News.

“But we just want to project more and more.”

Danielle Kelley said that since Hamlin’s collapse, her organization has received numerous emails from schools, parents and clubs wanting to schedule screenings for their young athletes.

Studies show that one in 300 students are at risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

HEART ATTACK RISK CAN BE FOUND BY NON-INVASIVE CALCIUM SCORING SCAN

These conditions are often missed during standard physical exercises.

In just the past two weeks, a 16-year-old girl died in Las Vegas after experiencing chest problems during a flag football game.

Heart exams such as electrocardiograms or echocardiograms are often not included in the standard physicals required by schools for student athletes.

Heart exams such as electrocardiograms or echocardiograms are often not included in the standard physicals required by schools for student athletes.
(Fox News)

At the Air Force Academy, a 21-year-old football player died suddenly while on his way to class.

“As a parent, I don’t know of any other pain you can endure than the loss of a child,” said Dr. Kelley said.

“We have more work to do. We need to keep talking.”

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Of the thousands of students he has screened, Dr. Kelley said only a handful have had abnormalities.

Still, doing those tests could have easily saved their lives, he said.

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To learn more about Jump Start Your Heart, anyone can visit the nonprofit’s website at jumpstartyourheart.org.

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