Free heart screenings for UConn students this weekend

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The Southern Connecticut State University athletic department is among the groups that In a Heartbeat has helped in the past. In a Heartbeat is an organization which utilizes its resources to help diagnose heart issues in young people across the state. Photo from In a Heartbeat website.

This weekend, the In A Heartbeat Foundation is offering free heart screenings for UConn students in Gampel Pavilion.  

On Sunday, the In A Heartbeat Foundation is partnering with the Korey Stringer Institute to offer the electrocardiograms (ECGS) to anyone between the ages of 8 and 22. The ECGs will then be interpreted by cardiologists on site. 

Mike Papale, the president of In A Heartbeat, explained the purpose of the non-profit and what he and his coworkers hope to accomplish through their mission.  

“We provide free ECG to children, teens and young adults. We’re a non-profit in Connecticut to prevent sudden death from cardiac arrest,” Papale said in a Zoom interview.  

At their event in Gampel, the goal is to provide ECG screenings for free, a service which is usually not covered or required until people are much past their college-aged years.  

“ECGs are not covered by insurance. Statistically, one in three young people are living with heart disease and they don’t know it,” Papale said.  

The In A Heartbeat organization was created by Papale in response to his own cardiac episode. At a young age, he went into a life or death cardiac arrest and was inspired to prevent that from happening to others. 

“It’s a quick way to get your heart checked. The goal is to catch heart disease before it’s a life or death situation,” Papale said.  

“It’s a quick way to get your heart checked. The goal is to catch heart disease before it’s a life or death situation.”

Mike Papale, president of In a Heartbeat.

Papale stated that the screening will only take about 30 minutes and is painless. While volunteer doctors will read the screenings, a free AED and CPR training course will be provided. 

Dr. Cheyenne Beach is the Director of Pediatric Electrophysiology at Yale and is volunteering at the event in Gampel. She explained what her role will be on Sunday and the importance of attending the event.  

“I volunteer my time, as do the other doctors that read the ECGs. This is an extraordinary opportunity to potentially identify some cardiac abnormalities that could be life threatening,” Beach said in a Zoom interview. “ECGs don’t identify every cardiac abnormality, so the ECG screening isn’t perfect, but it has the ability to identify patients at high risk for something that may be life threatening.” 

Beach explained how she was able to meet Papale during a cardiology conference and was inspired by his story to get involved with In A Heartbeat.  

“He was a Keynote speaker and told a beautiful, kind and emotional story of his episode of cardiac arrest,” Beach said. “He wants to do great things for people and give proactive care.” 

Students are encouraged to take advantage of this free opportunity and can sign up at https://screening.inaheartbeat.org, or use paper forms provided in Gampel.  

“These events are well thought out, efficient, effective in identifying some patients at risk for threatening events,” Beach said. “It’s really an honor to be part of community events like this where people want to help each other and save lives. It’s an adrenaline surge to be part of such goodness and kindness we need more of that in this world.  

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