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Hundreds of students screened for heart conditions at Kearny High School

Over 300 students were screened Sunday. Five were detected with cardiac abnormalities, three are serious enough to put them at risk for sudden cardiac arrest.

SAN DIEGO — One in 300 students are at risk for an undetected heart condition that can cause cardiac arrest. To help detect it and prevent this from happening, over 500 students registered for a heart screening at Kearny Senior High School. 

It's an assessment that can help save a kid's life. All it takes is a nurse to screen a person's heart to help detect whether their heart is healthy or if it's in danger of developing a heart condition.

This past weekend, hundreds of students lined up to get their hearts screened by a nurse at Kearny High School.  

The event was hosted to also help promote Senator Brian Jones' bill that is meant to establish a free screening program for kids in grades 5 through 12 in schools statewide.

“Deaths a year are common enough and notable enough to take preventable measures. I think families should take this seriously,” said Senator Jones.

Once signed into law, the education department would contract with a nonprofit organization to run the pilot program and provide data at the end of the three years for evaluation by the state. 

“At some point in time we’ll make sure that every school in California requires a heart screening, right now it's done on a volunteer basis by nonprofit organizations,” said Senator Jones. 

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 23,000 people under 25 years of age die each year of SCA. 

In most cases, it happens unexpectedly, like the Paredes family who lost their son Eric in 2012.

“We were packing to go on a cruise, and I stepped out to go to a doctor's appointment. Eric's dad came home 20 minutes later only to find his son dead. 

No signs and symptoms, when I saw my son for the last time he was completely fine. He was healthy, he had no signs,” said Hector and Rhina Paredes. 

The traumatic experience took  a toll on the family, but despite the tragedy they have now started a foundation to raise awareness. That foundation has helped hundreds of kids at risk.

“It's Eric, he’s changing lives. He's changing legislation and we just miss him,” said the family.

Now students are taking a few minutes out of their weekend schedule for a heart checkup. 

“You just never know when you can have a heart problem. you could be working out and next thing you can just drop to the floor and that’s scary. this is why it’s so important,” said Kwali Wilson, who is high school student and took the assessment. 

Both Senator Jones as well as the Paredes family hope this will become a requirement in all schools very soon. 

WATCH RELATED: Heart Health Month and 'SADS' Awareness (Feb. 2022).