Heath Elementary School fourth-grader Autumn Day gets her blood sugar checked by Laura Jane Sandman, radiography tech at Lourdes hospital, as part of the Lourdes' Cardiac Kids Academy. The free six-week program targets children at risk for developing cardiac problems.
More than 30 Heath Elementary students participated in the screening process for Lourdes’ Cardiac Kids Academy, a free six-week program that targets at-risk children for developing early or premature coronary artery disease.
Lourdes and the Purchase Area Health Education Center have teamed to offer the comprehensive cardiac screenings to identify at-risk children. The screenings included blood pressure, height and weight, glucose levels and a cholesterol check, which all relate to heart health.
“Heart health is a process — it doesn’t happen overnight,” said Lourdes’ registered nurse Karen Smith, a fitness specialist.
Smith is one of several nurses who are a part of the program that not only screens the students, but educates them on how to have fun while exercising, gives nutrition education, and promotes healthy eating and healthy lifestyle choices.
“Adults play huge roles in the kids’ lifestyle choices… we can make a difference,” Smith said.
Once students are screened, their results are compiled into a spreadsheet and the at-risk children are identified and sent an invitation to join Lourdes’ Cardiac Kids Academy.
The program provides two free physicals: a pre and post program physical, by Dr. Christopher Sperry of Mercy Primary Care.
“In six weeks we will see an improvement in the children’s fitness score,” said Lindsey Wiles, Lourdes health and wellness coordinator. “This will be checked pre and post by our fitness specialists. Improved fitness along with the nutritional education will give these children the tools they need for a healthy future.”
Brendan Evans, a fourth-grade student at Heath Elementary, knew he wanted to lose weight.
“I try to stay pretty active. I like to play basketball and baseball, and I try to walk at least one mile on the treadmill a day,” Evans said, enthusiastic about his screening.
“I wanted to get checked today to make sure nothing was in my blood that wasn’t supposed to be there.”
“This has grown from one school participating in the 2008 school year to 16 schools as well as two inner-city after-school programs in the 2012 school year,” said Wiles.
During this time, 964 children have been screened, and 63 percent have had some form of an elevated result.
“A follow-up phone call and an educational packet was sent home with the student with a voucher for a free lab to re-check blood work,” said Wiles.
Lourdes’ Cardiac Kids Academy’s goal is to improve the child’s nutrition and fitness choices and help them to understand how family medical history affects their life-long wellness. Early identification of these risk factors provides the opportunity work with the child and family to reduce the risk of disease.
To learn more about Lourdes’ Cardiac Kids Program, contact Wiles at 270-444-2911.