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 130,000 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 12,000 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

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 10.51.33 PMAiden

In August of 2013 Saint Charles East High School sent out a form for a free EKG. I was confident my son was healthy since he had been involved in multiple sports for 12 plus years but thought for free why not have him tested. On the same form I had the opportunity to volunteer with YH4L to help at East. I decided to give my time because I felt the program was so important. On October 18th I was trained on the EKG machine with many volunteers, we practiced until we felt confident with the machine. On October 19th I showed up for my “shift “and was assigned to a booth. As we ran EKG’s on students and had the nurse’s approve the test before we released students, we became fairly proficient at the task at hand. My son, Aiden Wright, was assigned to my booth.  He came in with a lot of questions. Which was strange for my son, he generally is not one to have anxiety about things like this…    Continue reading Aiden’s story


How do you thank someone who has given you a second chance at life? Many people have never been in this situation, but I have. Back when I was a freshman at Downers Grove South High School, I was given a letter stating the Midwest Heart Foundation was visiting our school to offer free EKG’s to students through their Young Hearts for Life program. I showed the letter to my mom who immediately said that I should get one. I disputed this because I thought that it was unnecessary to do. My mother reassured me that getting an EKG is really a simple task. The letter also explained just how easy it was to get an EKG and that made me feel better. So I agreed. On the day of the Young Hearts for Life event there were many other kids that were also getting EKG’s. It was so amazing to see just how fast it took and nobody appeared to be uncomfortable afterwards, so I was not nervous at all.

Within a few minutes I was done and on my way back to class…   Continue reading Gianna’s story