TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Fred H. Madden and Joseph F. Vitale which would establish the “New Jersey Student Athlete Cardiac Screening Task Force” within the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) received final legislative approval today from the Assembly, with a vote of 73-1-1.
“Today’s vote puts us one step closer to being able to fully address the cardiac needs of student athletes,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. “This bill has been around for a while, and it is the result of a number of student athletes suffering heart attacks while participating in sporting activities. The Task Force would be responsible for examining current standard screening procedures, and making sure that we have the most advanced technology available for these screenings. So much pressure is put on student athletes to perform well in the classroom and on the field, and through this bill’s provisions, students would receive the necessary screenings and tests to ensure that their hearts are healthy enough to do both.”
“For far too long, heart disease has been treated as a condition that only affects the elderly, overweight, or inactive,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, who Chairs the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “Over the past few years, we have seen an increasing number of cases of heart conditions in children – conditions that often go unnoticed and untreated until tragedy strikes, because students, parents and athletic coaches are unaware of the necessity for cardiac screening for young athletes. This task force would be responsible for examining and evaluating ways to help put an end to these preventable deaths in student athletes.”
The Senators’ bill, S-1771, would establish the seven member task force, which would consist of representatives of the Departments of Health and Senior Services and Education, as well as members of the American Heart Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.
The task force would be responsible for studying, evaluating and developing recommendations regarding specific measures to enhance the cardiac screening process of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and other cardiac conditions in student athletes.
The task force would be required to report its findings and recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature no later than one year after its initial meeting.
The measure now heads to Governor Corzine’s desk, where his signature would make it State law.