The Michigan Health & Hospital Association announced the winners of its 2011 Ludwig Community Benefit Award and Beaumont’s Student Athlete Heart Screening was one of the recipients.

Beaumont, Royal Oak pioneered its Student Athlete Screening: Healthy Heart Check program in 2007, assembling a team of health care professionals and local volunteers to screen high school students for heart conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which can lead to sudden death during physical activity.

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Promoted through a partnership with a local television station, the free screenings include a health history, blood pressure check, an electrocardiogram and, if necessary, an echocardiogram.

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By February 2011, 5,206 students had been screened; 509 were referred to physicians; 32 were told to stop playing sports immediately and follow up with a cardiologist; and one student was identified with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The program followed up with those asked to discontinue sports activity and found its recommendations have resulted in students receiving pacemakers and ablation procedures to treat abnormal heart rhythms.

The award is named in memory of Patric E. Ludwig, a former MHA president who championed investing in the community’s overall health, and is presented to member organizations integrally involved in collaborative programs to improve the health and well-being of area residents. Each winner will receive $2,500 from the MHA Health Foundation to assist in its health improvement efforts.

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Learn more about the MHA Health Foundation on their official site.