Young Hearts for Life® Cardiac Screenings Save Lives.

Young Hearts for Life® (YH4L) Cardiac Screening Program, nationally known for its unique model, has screened over 150,000 students for conditions that cause sudden cardiac death.  This milestone is a first for any heart screening program of this kind in the United States.

Each week, sudden cardiac death claims the lives of more than 60 young adults in the United States.  YH4L has been a leader the medical community to address this problem in the Chicago area.

The YH4L screening program was founded by Dr. Joseph Marek in 2006 and is well known for its unique model that uses trained community volunteers to deliver a low cost, efficient screening program.

Dr. Marek, an internationally recognized cardiologist, has taught physicians across America how to run screenings for students and athletes. Over 13,000 community volunteers have been trained to provide students with FREE ECGs through YH4L.

To date, over 2,000 students screened through YH4L have been identified as “at risk” students.  Of those, hundreds were found to have life threatening conditions, including Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, Long QT Syndrome, Wolff-Parkinson- White Syndrome (WPW), Brugada Syndrome, and Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia.

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Vital Volunteers

The definition of “vital” is often associated with the necessity for life. YH4L Volunteers are, indeed, vital to the life to our program, as well as to the lives of the young adults we screen. All members of our team participate in the YH4L training program to be ready to help at screening events. Many not only help at local high schools but also travel as needed to neighboring communities.

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Essential Sponsorship

Sponsors are essential members supporting YH4L, a not for profit program funded entirely by philanthropy.  Our community thanks the generous donors and supporters who have helped provide the ECG screenings to thousands of students each year free of charge. Gifts made to the program are tax deductible as provided by law and are processed at the Advocate Charitable Foundation.

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“We never set out to be the biggest—we just wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people.  The amazing growth comes because of the energy and commitment of our thousands of volunteers whose only goal is to save lives.”

– Dr. Joseph C. Marek

  Stories You’ll Want To Read

Nick BartoszNick

“Back in February of last year, my son and daughter brought a letter home from their high school (Metea) saying that Young Hearts for Life (YH4L) was offering free ECGs for the students.  Our children have always gone for their yearly physicals, so I did not expect anything to be wrong, but the screening was FREE, so why not?

Nick had been playing baseball and football for years.  Recently, he had complained that he was short of breath.  We took him to the doctor and she thought he might have asthma, so she put him on an inhaler.   Two weeks later, Nick complained of pain in his chest.  Since a doctor had already evaluated him, we assumed it was the aches and pains that go along with being a 2-sport athlete.

Both Nick and his sister went to the screening that Young Hearts for Life offered during the school day.  Since they both had been given a clean bill of health, we were very surprise to find out that Nick’s ECG showed a condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW).  This is one of the conditions which can cause Sudden Cardiac Death.

After a number of doctor visits and a surgical procedure (ablation), Nick has been able to return to sports.  We are very grateful to Dr. Marek and the Young Hearts for Life program.  If it wasn’t for YH4L, Nick may have someday become a tragic statistic.  Instead, today he is back on the football field and we are thankful the Young Hearts for life program was at our school.”

Jill and Chuck Bartosz

IMG_3003 copy (1)Mary Claire 

In the fall of 2012 Young Hearts for Life® came to Nazareth Academy to provide free screening EKG’s. At that time our son Patrick was a junior and MaryClaire was a freshman. While all four of our children had regular physicals and were healthy, we felt since the test was convenient and free we may as well have them tested. After all, it seems like almost weekly you hear stories of young athletes collapsing while participating in sports.

A few days later we received a call that MaryClaire had an abnormal EKG that would need further evaluation. This came as a shock because there was no history of heart disease in our family. After meeting with a cardiologist she was given the diagnosis of prolonged QT syndrome. This is a condition that can cause the heart to go into a potentially fatal arrhythmia after it receives an adrenaline shock during strenuous exercise or by being suddenly startled. After further testing and consultation with her doctor MaryClaire had to start medication and the decision was made to have a cardiac defibrillator placed as an added protection.

MaryClaire had her surgery in December of 2014. While she no longer participates in the competitive sports of cross country and soccer, she has stepped into the management role of both teams. These lifestyle adjustments have been difficult for her to accept at times, but she has made the best of it and realizes that all this is to help protect her from a potentially life threatening situation.

We feel the opportunity for our children to be tested through the Young Hearts For Life® program offered at Nazareth Academy has been a blessing in our lives. This program may have averted a life-threatening situation for MaryClaire and for that we are truly thankful!

  Kevin and Patty McKenna