Mother looks to catch heart problems in the 'Nick of Time'

Students at Interlake High in Bellevue went through a series of tests Wednesday, not for their minds, but for their hearts.

BELLEVUE, Wash. – Look around the gym at Interlake High Wednesday, and you'll notice No. 58 featured prominently.

"That was my son's football number in high school," said Darla Varrenti, about all the people wearing #58.  "This is our 57th screening, next month is 58, so we use 58 in lots of different ways."

She led an assembly at the gym, for her Nick in Time Foundation.

"Created in honor of my son Nick, who was a football player and wrestler, and who had sudden cardiac arrest and died,” Varrenti said.

Here she is 12 years later, along with her mobile EKG lab. Along with volunteers and doctors from UW Medicine, she tested students for warning signs.  They found two with irregularities, out of dozens tested.

"Overall, the risk is low," said Dr. Jon Drezner, who chairs the Sports Cardiology unit at the University of Washington. 

But he said active high school athletes are four times more likely to have cardiac issues, than non-athletes. 

"For some reason, male athletes, African-American athletes, and specifically boys basketball, college basketball, has the highest risk of all," Drezner said. 

The EKG, he said, "is a way of looking under the surface, lifting up the hood, checking the engine, and seeing if something is wrong."

Anne Marie Heywood was among the students tested.

"I'm active. I like to go on runs on my own," she said, and after the test "having that piece of mind when I'm safe on the field."

Varrenti plans on making stops over the next few months, and believes it truly does prevent someone from becoming the next number.

"I know it's saving lives," she said.

The EKG Lab will visit the following locations over the next few months:
March – Kentwood High School
April – Shorecrest High Sschool and UW Hub
May – Bainbridge Island High School

Copyright 2017 KING


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