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NHS Hosts Inaugural EKG Scanning for Students

Alexa Sweeney ’25
April 24th’s EKG testing brought an abundance of volunteers from Quinnipiac’s medical school. More than 100 participants came to Nonnewaug for this free testing.

WOODBURY — Region 14 offers an array of complimentary services to students and the community, ranging from athletic physicals to healthy heart assessments. Sandra Snabaitis, Nonnewaug High School’s nurse, helped to host a free EKG scanning in the cafeteria on April 24.

Electrocardiogram (EKG) scanning is a quick and painless test to check a patient’s heart rhythm and electrical activity. This test was made available for anyone enrolled in any Region 14 school from ages eight to 25. 

Snabaitis worked countless hours to help put this event together. She knows the importance of health in schools and sports.

“One in three students have arrhythmias undetected,” Snabaitis explains. 

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Heart arrhythmias are defined as the irregular beating of the heart — either too fast or too slow. If undetected, they can be deadly.

“[Arrhythmias are] the No. 1 cause of death in student-athletes and [top] cause of death on school campuses,” Snabaitis said. 

Snabaitis knew that she needed to do something to bring awareness to these life threatening numbers, so she contacted In A Heartbeat, a Connecticut-based non-profit that focuses on preventing death due to heart issues by offering free EKG scanning. 

The organization’s founder, Mike Papale, was a victim of sudden cardiac arrest at 17 years old. He started the organization in order to bring awareness to sudden cardiac arrest and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Snabaitis knew his organization would be helpful to help diagnose and prevent any future heart issues. 

From left, junior Samantha Kostka, nurse Sandra Snabaitis, junior Lexi Sweeney, and junior Kyleigh Paige helped run the free EKG testing at Nonnewaug on April 24. (Alexa Sweeney ’25)

“We obtained a donation from the athletic department and provided dinner for the 25 volunteers from Quinnipiac University,” Snabaitis said. 

Juniors Samantha Kostka and Kyleigh Paige, the president and vice president of the Woodbury FFA, assisted Snabaitis to run the event. 

“We helped organize the students that arrived and made sure they were in the right spots to make the process run smoother,” Kostka said.

Paige knew she wanted to help ease her fellow classmates’ fears or worries about the process.

“I walked around with other students and made sure they felt comfortable,” Paige said. 

Both students also made sure to receive an EKG of their own.

“I just took advantage of the opportunity to get it for free, and there was no harm in getting one at an early age,” Kostka said. 

During the process, she felt at ease of what was going to happen after watching so many others do it before her. 

“It was a very simple process,” Kostka explained. “They stuck stickers into various places on your body, and then when it was time, they connected cords to the stickers. The actual test took only about seven minutes.”

After both girls reflected on the event, they both felt confident about the test’s results and knew that they would be eager to help out with something like this again. 

“We would definitely help out again,” Paige exclaimed.

Hannah Searles, a senior at Nonnewaug, decided to participate in the free scanning while she could. 

“It doesn’t hurt anything to have an EKG, so I would definitely do it again to make sure my body is healthy,” Searles stated. “It only took a few minutes and didn’t cost anything so, for me, it was a great experience. I would 100% do it again.”

This story was originally published on NHS Chief Advocate on May 2, 2024.