Brevard County schools require heart testing for student athletes

The Brevard School System is getting serious about heart disease.Early detection is everything.

FOX 35 News met a mother who  knows a lot about this. Her daughter was eight years old when she was diagnosed with heart disease. She says the county’s new program for testing student athletes is excellent. Public school’s now have a mandatory policy -- it requires all student athletes in grades 7 to 12 to get an electrocardiogram if they’re going to play a sport.

Back in June, the school board announced the policy was coming and many families decided to get ahead of it, to get their kids tested. The school board says 4,000 students have been screened, more than 100 were flagged as abnormal, 15 considered to be high risk.  As a result of the screenings, six life-saving surgeries have been performed.

“I think it’s absolutely a great idea, if Christina hadn’t been detected early, then she could’ve been one of those tragedies that you hear of...of those kids collapsing suddenly, and they just don’t make it.”
Heather Cinca said.

Cinca knows firsthand how upsetting a diagnosis is. Her daughter Christina had cardiomyopathy, then got a heart transplant. Christina is now a college student, an aspiring nurse and has started a charity. She is dedicated to the cause.

“And it’s just important to come together as a family and try to figure out how you’re going to get through that time,” Cinca said.

Brevard county was stunned and alerted to the issue in late 2007, when a 15-year-old Cocoa Beach high school student collapsed on the field and died. The school system has partnered with a nonprofit organization to help pay for the heart tests.

Cinca says the awareness is crucial, and if a family has just gotten a diagnosis as a result of an electrocardiogram, her message is this:

“Yes, you feel like your world stops at that point, but I feel like there are so many diagnoses out there and not all of them mandate or require that they stop playing sports.”

Every year on the anniversary of Christina’s heart transplant, the Cinca‘s host a charity run and the proceeds go to the same nonprofit that’s helping the school system do this screening program.