More Than 1,000 HISD Students Screened for Heart Abnormalities

Texas Heart Institute’s Mobile Imaging Unit visits Pershing and several other selected middle schools
December 08, 2011
Thousands of HISD middle school students are taking part in voluntary screenings to detect heart abnormalities that could lead to serious injury, or even death. It's all happening through a partnership between the district and the Center for Coronary Artery Anomalies at the Texas Heart Institute. The two-year project just completed its first year with more than 1,000 free screenings at several HISD middle schools.

"These are congenital conditions that present no symptoms and therefore you don't know you have them until some tragic event occurs," said Anthony Masso, Manager of the Center for Coronary Artery Anomalies. "The typical well-check examination does not shed light on their existence, but the non-evasive screenings we are performing can."

The Texas Heart Institute's Mobile Imaging Unit is now parked outside of Pershing Middle School. The 18-wheeler is equipped with an MRI and an electrocardiogram machine, which are used to test students during their physical education classes.

"We were very excited that they wanted to come to our school," said Pershing Principal Robin Lowe. "We can actually get two kids per class period, so we are able to screen about seven or eight kids a day."

In 2012, the 18-wheeler will move on to another HISD middle school. The exams are completely voluntary, involve no needles, and can be done in a matter of minutes.

In addition to providing the screenings, researchers at the Texas Heart Institute will use the data they collect to learn more about heart abnormalities in young people. "Currently, we do not know the prevalence of these high-risk cardiovascular conditions in the general population," Masso said. "One of the hopeful results of this research is to get a better picture of how many people, particularly young people, are affected and how they can ultimately be saved."

The project is being underwritten by a $5 million donation from the Kinder Foundation, founded by Houston philanthropists Rich and Nancy Kinder.