Madden/Vitale Bill To Establish ‘New Jersey Student Athlete Cardiac Screening Task Force’ Clears Senate Education Committee

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) was unanimously approved today by the Senate Education Committee.

“This bill has been around for a while, and in essence, it is the result of a number of student athletes suffering heart attacks while playing sports,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. “I’ve met with various cardiologists and medical associations, and this bill is designed to put together a task force of cardiac professionals, to examine the current screening process and ensure that we are up to date on the latest methods and technologies involved with these screenings. The bill’s intent is to find the best possible methods to better assess these student athletes.”

“Heart disease doesn’t just affect the elderly, overweight, or inactive,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, who Chairs the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Panel. “We are seeing more and more cases of heart conditions like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy among children, but because these conditions are virtually undetectable without cardiac screening, it is imperative that students undergo these tests before participating in strenuous activities like playing for school sports teams. This task force would be responsible for studying and evaluating ways to help put an end to these preventable deaths in student athletes.”

Under the Senators’ bill, S-1771, the seven member task force would be comprised 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.

This measure now heads to the full Senate for approval.

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