SHA Hosts Kentucky's First Community Heart Screening Event for Teens

We're hearing more and more about Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) in the news. Scary stories from seemingly healthy athletes like Damar Hamlin and Bronny James have brought new attention to SCA, which is the leading cause of death in student athletes. Right here in Louisville, Sacred Heart Academy junior Alexis Loveless, a cardiac event survivor, has partnered with the Who We Play For foundation to bring affordable and potentially lifesaving heart screenings to teens in Kentucky’s first community heart screening event on Saturday, September 9 from 9am-12pm. Participants can also learn hands-on CPR in a 10-minute training session.


Less than 5% of underlying heart conditions are detected by doctors at the common sports physical, but a five-minute, pain-free electrocardiogram (EKG) increases detection up to 95%. That's a huge difference that Alexis hopes will encourage athletes 10-30 years old to sign up for a $20 heart screening on Saturday, September 9 at Sacred Heart Academy. After school on Friday, September 8 from 2:30-5:00, the screenings will be open to SHA students only. Families can learn more and register at:

Heart Screening Event flyer 9/9/2023

Alexis' passion about heart screening and cardiac health is personal. When she was thirteen, she attended a pep rally at a local high school. Suddenly, Alexis was on the ground, completely unconscious. She had no prior symptoms, and as a competitive dancer, she was in terrific shape for a teenage athlete. No one called 911. She didn’t receive CPR. The gym did not have an AED (automated external defibrillator) device. Luckily, Alexis survived and her condition--Long QT syndrome--is now regulated by a pacemaker and through the use of an emergency action plan. But not everyone is as lucky. One-third of all people with Long QT syndrome die before they are even aware of a problem. Doctors believe that if Alexis had an EKG as part of a screening, she would have known about her congenital heart defect before her near-death experience. 


During her freshman and sophomore years at Sacred Heart, Alexis began using her story to educate others about the importance of learning CPR and using lifesaving AED devices. An AED can shock a heart back into rhythm if cardiac arrest occurs. Alexis says, "Ever since I was diagnosed with heart disease and became a cardiac survivor, I learned how many people aren't adequately educated on recognizing and proceeding in the case of a cardiac emergency." Sacred Heart Academy’s gym was already equipped with an AED and coaches continue to receive training.


During her sophomore year, Alexis brought the issue to Sacred Heart's Kentucky Youth Assembly (KYA) chapter, where she and fellow classmates introduced a mock bill that would require Kentucky middle and high schools to be equipped with AED equipment at sporting events and practices. She was there when Governor Andy Beshear signed Kentucky House Bill 331 into law, and she remains hopeful that all students in Kentucky can attend schools equipped with the lifesaving devices. 


Alexis has been recognized for her efforts: the American Heart Association selected her as a keynote speaker at the Go Red for Women luncheon and her appointment as a Kentucky Youth Heart Ambassador has just been announced.


Alexis’ goal for the screenings on September 8-9 is simple: “I want to fill up the screenings so that we have to do it again.” Alexis is surely living up to the Ursuline Core Values proclaimed by her high school, Sacred Heart Academy--Reverence, Service, Leadership and Community. She says, “Everything I do is because I was given a second chance. So I made it my mission to fight for those who didn’t get that opportunity.”

Fittingly, as Sacred Heart teachers and students like to say of their students, Alexis is All Heart.

Read more about Alexis in the Courier Journal here (July 20, 2023) and here (August 28, 2023)