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In a Heartbeat offers free cardiac screenings to Westport students Oct. 4

The+above+graphic+compares+a+normal+heart+%28left%29+to+a+heart+with+hypertrophic+cardiomyopathy%28right%29.+Mike+Papale+was+inspired+to+create+In+a+Heartbeat+after+he+had+been+unexpectedly+diagnosed+with+hypertrophic+cardiomyopathy.+Graphic+by+Hannah+Salpeter+25.+
Hannah Salpeter ’25
The above graphic compares a normal heart (left) to a heart with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy(right). Mike Papale was inspired to create In a Heartbeat after he had been unexpectedly diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Graphic by Hannah Salpeter ’25.

In a Heartbeat, a state-based nonprofit, will be providing the Westport community with free EKG screenings on Oct. 4 from 3 -7:30 p.m. in the Staples High School cafeteria. The only requirement to receive a free screening is to register for the cardiac screening program prior to the testing date.  

This program is aimed at detecting underlying or otherwise unknown heart conditions or irregularities and preventing sudden cardiac arrest in children and adolescents. 

In a Heartbeat and its mission were created by former high school basketball player Mike Papale, who was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy after unexpectedly going into cardiac arrest at 17 years old while coaching a basketball camp.

According to In a Heartbeat’s registration program, “Recording the electrical activity of the heart using electrodes attached to the skin with a mild adhesive, can detect approximately 60% of the abnormalities or ‘markers’ from these heart conditions that are associated with sudden cardiac death that a stethoscope cannot.”

These EKG/ECG (electrocardiogram) screenings are open to all students, but are expected to be especially attractive to Staples athletes. Cardiological complications such as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, which is the thickening of the left ventricular wall eventually preventing proper blood flow to the body, can be extremely dangerous for those during exercise or sports. If left undiagnosed or untreated, conditions such as these can be detrimental to one’s health especially and even fatal while exercising, as the heart may not be able to pump an adequate amount of blood to the body.

Hopefully [Staples athletes] gain a little bit of knowledge, and those who go through the screening process get the information that shows that they are safe and healthy and good to continue participating.

— VJ Sarullo, Staples Athletic Director

“I’m getting the EKG because I play such a heart intensive sport,” Sam Zwick-Lavinsky ’25 said. “I’m interested in finding out my vitals to see where I can improve certain areas of my endurance training.”

The In a Heartbeat website recommends that everyone get repeat ECG screenings every two years to keep up with your health and safety. The organization has also made a point to make everyone comfortable and welcomed by specifying that females will be tested by female technicians only and in separate areas from the boys. 

“It’s an outstanding program,” Staples athletic director VJ Sarullo said. “I think it’s beneficial and it helps our student athletes stay safe and healthy.”

To help In a Heartbeat to continue spreading awareness about Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, saving lives, and providing accessible resources to all, the organization accepts donations from anyone willing to contribute. If unable to make the Westport Oct. 4 testing date there are also other screening opportunities at surrounding schools such as Weston High School, Greenwich High School and others, and specific details can be found on the registration page. 

“Hopefully [Staples athletes] gain a little bit of knowledge,” Sarullo said. “And those who go through the screening process get the information that shows that they are safe and healthy and good to continue participating.”

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About the Contributor
Hannah Salpeter ’25, Staff Writer
Hannah Salpeter ’25 joined Inklings as a staff writer this year in search of a community.  “I kept seeing the paper and hearing about the community. I knew I wanted to be a part of it,” Salpeter said.  Salpeter is an athlete as well as the secretary of both Donations For People & Pets and Tri-M. Salpeter is also a member of numerous different clubs, yet Salpeter has taken Advanced Journalism for a different experience.  “This class is so special and definitely isn’t like any other class at Staples,” Salpeter said. “I love being a part of this wonderful experience.” 

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