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April 10, 2014

Free heart screenings for Salem children Saturday

SALEM — Slots are still available for Salem children and teenagers ages 12 to 19 to receive free heart screenings Saturday.

The Josh Thibodeau Helping Hearts Foundation is holding the free event, scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Nathaniel Bowditch School on Willson Street.

A heart screening appointment includes a review of the student’s health history; height, weight and blood pressure check; heart sounds check; electrocardiogram; echocardiogram, if needed; and physician consultation. Each appointment lasts between 30 and 45 minutes. Dr. David A. Kane, assistant professor of pediatric cardiology at UMass Medical School and the foundation’s medical director, will be the consulting cardiologist Saturday.

Students can also learn hands-on CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator at the event.

The organization was founded by Ralph and Deb Thibodeau, whose 12-year-old son, Joshua, died of sudden cardiac arrest while participating in a soccer camp in July 2011. The Thibodeaus had no idea any of their five children had a heart condition. They created the foundation in an effort to prevent other families from enduring similar experiences by encouraging early cardiac screenings and education.

Saturday will be the foundation’s second free heart screening. At the first event, held last June at Wachusett Regional High School, 116 students were screened, 20 of whom were advised to seek further examination. Of those students, three were later diagnosed with heart issues, according to the foundation.

Preregistration is required. For more information and to register, visit www.joshthibodeauhelpinghearts.com. Forms are provided in both English and Spanish.

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