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Columbia Football to Participate in Heart Screening Program

Lions in Action

Columbia University will partner with the Chad Foundation and the Living Heart Foundation to conduct pre-season heart screenings on every member of its football team. The procedure will be an on-site, non-invasive echocardiography and will take place in addition to the normal pre-participation physical the Lion football players receive prior to leaving for training camp.

These tests, which normally are administered in a hospital and cost as much as $2000 each, will be administered free of charge at Columbia's Sports Medicine Office through the Chad Foundation for Athletes and Artists, a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of sudden cardiac events in young, healthy patients. Although other schools have conducted heart screenings, Columbia is the first in the nation to participate in this groundbreaking program.

"We are very happy to welcome this new heart screening program," said Dr. John Reeves, Columbia's Director of Physical Education and Intercollegiate Athletics. "This is simply another attempt for Columbia to be on the cutting edge when it comes to health-related issues. We are aware of the fact that other universities are doing great things in the interest of student-athlete welfare and none of us are immune from tragedy, but every effort helps.

"We are very pleased that the Chad Foundation and the Living Heart Foundation, through our former athletic great, Dr. Arthur "Archie" Roberts, have selected Columbia for their first full echocardiogram heart screening."

The Columbia screening will utilize an echocardiography system from Acuson, a Siemens Company, a miniaturized, high-performance system that is easy to use and highly portable. Weighing less than nine kilograms, it is equipped for all transthoracic echocardiography applications, including adult, pediatric, stress-echo and contrast agent imaging.

The Chad Foundation, founded by the actress known as Arista following the death of her 26 year-old son, Chad Alan Butrum, during an informal football game in 1994, seeks to raise the awareness of sudden death in young athletes, aiding in research and preventive measures. Last year the Chad Foundation joined with the Living Heart Foundation to expand its Cardiovascular Screening Program.

"We have joined with Dr. Arthur Roberts, the Chairman of Living Heart Foundation, to expand our cardiovascular screening program," Arista said. "Living Heart and Chad will conduct our screenings together, to screen not just for cardiomyopathy, but also for serum cholesterol, blood sugar, arterial elasticity, hypertension and body mass index.

"Using the echocardiograph and the assistance of physicians, technicians and other healthcare providers from the community, we will gather clinical information from the screening program designed by National Cardiovascular Screening Lifestyle Initiative (NCSLI). NCSLI will form a database that will collect the information for the medical and scientific community on this neglected area: cardiovascular research on people under the age of 35. "

In its most recent cardiovascular screening, at three high schools in Holyoke, Mass., Dr. Roberts’

hometown, Arista reported that one-third of the students tested showed at least one component at risk for cardio disease.

Once a student-athlete is determined to be "at risk," that athlete will then undergo further testing. In the case of Columbia, if further tests are required, they will be supervised by the school's physician, Dr. William Levine, and Head Athletic Trainer, Jim Gossett.

"At Columbia, as well as many institutions around the country, student-athlete welfare is and will continue to be more important than practice or play. We have terrific sports medicine support here through our working relationship with Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital and our team physician, Dr. Levine," said Reeves. "And Jim Gossett, prompted us to become, perhaps, the first university in the country to require that every physical education and athletics staff member be certified in CPR and first-aid. So we have AED’s (portable defibrillators) at both our campus and outdoor athletic sites. "

Roberts is the chairman of the National Cardiovascular Screening Initiative. One of Columbia’s greatest athletes, he was an All-America in football and baseball, prior to his 1965 graduation, and played professional football with the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins.

For further information, or if you would like to be present during the screenings, please contact Al Langer or Todd Kennedy at 212-854-2534.

For USA Today coverage of the heart screening program, click here.

Published: Aug 17, 2001
Last modified: Sep 18, 2002

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