By Tyler Hynderickson

This Saturday, Wilson High School is partnering with the Saving Hearts Foundation to provide a free preventative heart screening to the Long Beach community.

The event is completely free and open to anyone ages 12-35.

The non-invasive screenings take about 5 minutes and will be conducted inside the Wilson media center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Visitors should enter campus along Ximeno Avenue just north of Seventh Street. Signs will direct them to the screening location.

Sign-ups are available here to schedule an appointment time, but walk-ins are also welcome. Participants will be able to speak with cardiologists on-site about their EKG reading.

Wilson assistant principal Ngoc Nguyen is spearheading the event, though it’s not her first time bringing free heart screenings onto a Long Beach Unified campus. Back in 2016, Nguyen partnered with the Saving Hearts Foundation for a successful screening event at Poly High School, where she was serving as activities director.

“That was actually their first event, so Poly was kind of the pilot, and since then, they’ve hosted numerous heart screening events at different high schools,” Nguyen explained. “When we did our first screening, we actually found one student who had a heart abnormality, and he actually had surgery right away. And so it was a preventative measure that pretty much saved his life during that first event in 2016.”

Nguyen emphasized that student-athletes are a target audience for these preventative heart screenings, which are not a required component of an athlete’s medical clearance process. While the services are available to anyone, she wants to encourage as many athletes as possible to attend and make sure they don’t have any underlying and undetected heart defects.

“We just know that (cardiac arrest) is the number one killer of student-athletes, and so that’s why it’s our more-targeted focus, but it is open to the community,” she said. “The data shows that one in 300 students have an undetected heart problem that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest, so when you look at the numbers, we have 3,500 students on this campus. We could potentially catch 11-12 students on our campus that may have some sort of heart abnormality.”

The Saving Hearts Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Sherman Oaks. It was founded in 2014 by a trio of UCLA students and has gone on to provide thousands of free heart screenings to students across the globe.

Visit their website to learn more.