Screenings for Athletes Save Lives

By Devika Rajeev

St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn, New York offers free cardiac screenings each month for student athletes.

Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Sean Levchuck with the help of Dr. Richard D’Agostino, began this program at St. Francis Hospital. Dr. Levchuck explained that the inspiration to start the program came from a tragedy. “A guy named Alexei Cherepanov was preparing to join the New York Rangers as a 19-year-old and died on the bench in Russia,” Levchuck said. The young player died of cardiomyopathy, a disease which could’ve been easily detected and diagnosed if Cherepanov had a screening. Cardiac heart screenings include electrocardiograms which test for problems with the electric activity of the heart. They also include echocardiograms which test for many cardiac abnormalities. Undetected heart problems can be dangerous and even deadly for athletes; these screenings can help identify any serious conditions before they cause negative health consequences.

Dr. Levchuk, a college hockey player himself, wanted to make a difference.  However, his mission is not limited to athletes as he opens his screenings to all students. “Myself and Dr. Rich D’Agostino came up with this plan to do the student athlete screening where we would invite all high school students. Even if they’re not athletes, they’re still welcome and we screen them for cardiac issues that can result in sudden cardiac deaths,” he said.

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When you are dealing with your heart, only trust a professional cardiologist.

Jericho’s Athletic Director and Assistant Principal John Mankowich stresses the importance of the screenings. “Right now for athletic physicals, there are certain medical updates that take place, but you’re not really picking up on some things like cardiomyopathy.” Mr. Mankowich agreed that these screenings will clear up any confusion and “will help show abnormalities that might be present in a child.” These screenings that typically cost hundreds of dollars are being offered once a month to students for free. 

Jericho senior and student athlete Rachel H. gave her personal story on how Dr. Levchuck’s screenings impacted her life. She said, “Getting the heart screening made me feel at ease and more comfortable on the field knowing that I am a healthy athlete. It’s really important for athletes to get this done because you don’t know if you have anything wrong with you and there aren’t always symptoms that show signs of a serious condition.” She explained that these screenings can help avoid situations that put an athlete’s life in danger. “There are people who are on the field that collapse, and that’s because they didn’t know they had something wrong with their heart.” As a student athlete, cardiac screenings can help keep your mind at ease as you stand on the field. As Rachel said, “This free heart screening can literally save your life.”

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