The Saving Hearts Foundation and Valencia High School hosted a heart screening event to provide a necessary resource for community members to learn more about their heart health on Saturday.
The Saving Hearts Foundation is a nonprofit organization working in Southern California to organize community heart screenings to identify and detect heart conditions that can predispose individuals to cardiac arrest.
The foundation was started by a group of University of California Los Angeles undergrad students to bring heart screenings to those who are unaware of heart problems they could potentially have, and provide them with the resource to get a screening that would otherwise not be covered by insurance.
“We’re all undergrad students who were trying to find a way to give back to the community and find (a) means of making a difference in this world,” said Aneeq Malik, Saving Hearts Foundation operations director.
The foundation works on a three-pillar model: provide heart screenings, facilitate CPR and AED (automated external defibrillator) training and have community health talks.
Johnathon Gedalia, Valencia High School Medical Science Academy teacher, discovered the foundation and decided that this was something the high school needed to implement. The awareness for the need of this mainly came from an incident in 2014 in which a Valencia basketball player went into cardiac arrest during practice, due to an undiagnosed heart condition.
“It just made sense to bring them in and do this,” said Gedalia. “If a teammate or family member were to collapse or go into cardiac arrest, they would know what steps to take, to help them.”
Gedalia has been working with the foundation for more than four years, hosting free heart screenings for all youth aged 12-24.
Students from the school’s Medical Science Academy participated in the event, as well. The academy is a four-year high school program that incorporates medical knowledge into general education classes, while preparing students for a future career in the medical field.
“There’s a real need in the community for heart screenings,” said Saving Hearts Foundation Executive Director Andyshea Afyouni. “It’s such a supportive environment that we love working with the school and are welcomed back.”
Valencia student Nicholas Kroll attended the screening to make sure that no stone was left unturned when it comes to his health.
“I know how important it is for people to get screened, because there’s a lot of people out there with undiagnosed heart conditions and it’s better to err on the safe side because you never know,” said Kroll.
As of the Saturday screening, the Saving Hearts Foundation and Valencia High School have screened close to 1,000 people, helping many discover heart conditions that they were previously unaware of.