News & Views

Press Release

Hawaii Heart Youth Screening Program Launches

Program aims to prevent leading cause of death in young athletes

November 4, 2013

nurse checks boys blood pressure at Hawaii Youth Heart screening

HONOLULU — Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, in partnership with the Hawaii Heart Foundation, provided free cardiac screenings Nov. 2 at Moanalua High School. Hawaii Heart Youth Screening Program, designed to identify Hawaii youth at risk of sudden cardiac arrest, screened nearly 200 young people, ages 14-22, at this first-ever event in Hawaii.

Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in young athletes and the third leading cause of death in children. Every three days, one high school-aged athlete in the United States suffers sudden cardiac arrest.

The screening included a medical and family history review, physical exam and an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) to analyze the “electrical system” of the heart. An echocardiogram, an ultrasound of the heart, was also given if needed. In addition to heart screenings, HHF provided students with training on the latest hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques and the use of automated external defibrillators.two girls kneeling on the floor prepare to practice on heart dummies

“At Kaiser Permanente, prevention and early detection are extremely important to us. Parents need to know that many of those affected by SCA are healthy individuals with no symptoms of heart disease and that a simple, brief screening can prevent SCA,” said Chris Stefanelli, MD, Kaiser Permanente pediatric cardiologist and medical director of the screening program. “The ECG is key to the screening process because it is simple to obtain and is abnormal in more than 70 percent of young individuals at risk of SCA.”

“It’s a dream come true to be able to screen young people for heart issues and possibly help prevent families from suffering the tragedy of losing a child to sudden cardiac arrest,” said Pamela Foster, executive director Hawaii Heart Foundation. “Providing CPR and AED training is so important because until we can screen every young person we need to be ready when a friend or family member needs assistance. This training helps protect our entire community.”

Kaiser Permanente and the Hawaii Heart Foundation plan to bring similar screening programs to other Oahu and Neighbor Island locations in 2014.

About the Hawaii Heart Foundation
Hawaii Heart Foundation (HHF) is a Hawaii non-profit organization established in 2010 with the mission to improve the cardiac arrest survival rates in Hawaii. HHF’s main focus is early installation of CPR skills and understanding in our keiki. From an early age, children will learn critical skills relating to the chain of survival and to help save a life, which will be reinforced as they progress through school. By the time they graduate, we hope to have created a generation of CPR/AED-savvy students who have the confidence and willingness to save a life. For more information, visit

Mahalo to the Nick of Time Foundation for planning and logistical guidance in creating the Hawaii screening model. Hawaii Heart Youth Screening program utilizes the nationally recognized “Seattle Criteria” for screening ECG interpretation guidelines. Equipment for this screening is generously being provided by General Electric (GE) and Phillips.

About Kaiser Permanente Hawaii

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii has provided total health to the people of Hawaii for more than 50 years, with physicians who are members of the Hawaii Permanente Medical Group, the largest multi-specialty physician group practice in the state of Hawaii. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. Visit for additional information. Become a fan of good health with Kaiser Permanente Hawaii: Like our page at and follow @KPHawaii on Twitter.