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The Max Schewitz Foundation Provides Free Tests for Students

The foundation provides 'Screens for Teens' to identify those at risk for sudden cardiac death.

The Max Schewitz Foundation kicked off its fifth year of Screens for Teens on Sept. 26 at Lakes Community High School and will be at Libertyville High School Oct. 24.

The program—which aims to identify students who are at risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) before they are stricken—will bring its testing to seven high schools, as well as the College of Lake County, during the 2012-13 school year. So far, the foundation has given nearly 28,000 students electrocardiograms, and hundreds of others have received an echocardiogram. 

The Foundation was created by Mary Beth Schewitz after she lost her son, Max Schewitz, suddenly when he was 20 years old due to an undiagnosed cardiac condition. Max demonstrated no warning signs or any previous medical conditions, which is very common in victims of SCD.

“Max was a fun and fit 20-year-old when he died,” Mary Beth said. “He had the charm of a boy but the developing seriousness of a man. He brought joy to us and many others. I can still hear his laugh. Like so many who die of SCD, Max had no prior symptoms.”

While it's unsure how many young adults die from SCD, estimates range from several hundred individuals to many thousands. The Max Schewitz foundation find that 1-2 percent of all tests show an abnormal marker that is associated with SCD. They keep an echocardiography machine on site the day of to provide follow-up testing for students who may need it.

The EKGs can detect 40-50 percent of the markers of conditions that can lead to SCD. If the conditions are identified, they can be treated and the student can expect to live a normal life expectancy.

“[40-50 percent] is a long way from 100 percent, but also very far from 0 percent,” Mary Beth said. “We have found many, many young adults who, like Max, had no symptoms, but yet had a potentially life-threatening cardiac condition uncovered by our testing.”

Mary Beth noted that the tests are noninvasive, completed in a private setting at the school and are interpreted by “top-notch” cardiologists, led by Dr. Eli Lavie, Medical Director of the Max Schewitz Foundation. To register your child, parents can download a form at http://www.maxandthewildthings.com or pick one up at your student’s school. Return the completed form to their school.

 2012-13 Screens for Teens testing dates and locations

  • Mundelein High School: 10/17/12
  • Libertyville High School: 10/24/12
  • Grayslake Central: 11/4/12
  • Deerfield High School: 12/12/12
  • Grayslake North: 2/13/13
  • College of Lake County: 2/20/13

Lake Forest High School also participated in the program.

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