The Greater Carbondale YMCA is pleased to announce the availability of a new tool to help people identify and manage their cardiac and pulmonary health.

Through the vision of executive director Steve Durkin and assistant executive director Jason Mackie, and with input from the Board of Directors plus a generous grant from the McGowan Foundation, the YMCA was able to purchase a $53,000 cardiac telemetry system.

The telemetry system can accommodate up to eight participants who are monitored wirelessly throughout six different areas of the facility. The transducers used to track each participant are waterproof, so even those with joint problems or arthritis can be monitored as they exercise in the therapeutic temperature pool. The new wireless system replaces the older hardwired cardiac monitor that had been in use at the YMCA for the past decade.

Registered nurse Lorrie Williams and her team, which includes a certified trainer, a health coach, a registered dietician, physical therapists, a pharmacist, a psychologist, and other trained staff, are currently using the telemetry system to aid in cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation and to help people learn about their cardiac health. The members of the telemetry team have been trained to use the system and are able to access 24-hour technical help should questions arise.

People interested in learning more about the state of their cardiac health can come to the YMCA for a submaximal heart screening, better known as a stress test. After completing a rigorous general health screening, which includes a general and family health history, assessment of medications and supplements taken by the participant, a physical exam, and a cardiac rhythm interpretation, the participant may be eligible to perform the exercise stress test.

Ms. Williams emphasizes that the test is only available to those who pass the screening and who are in good cardiac health. Anyone experiencing symptoms such as chest pains, heart palpitations, or shortness of breath should consult a physician or cardiologist and may be scheduled to take a stress test in a medical setting.

The test is free to all members of the YMCA and available for $35 to non-members. No doctor’s order is needed to use the service. Results of the stress test, which is completed while wearing the cardiac telemetry system’s wireless transducers, can be faxed or emailed to the participant’s doctor or cardiologist.

“Having this system means that people can be their own health advocate. It allows you to take control of your health and see your numbers,” said Ms. Williams. The telemetry system is currently being used for cardiac rehabilitation, pulmonary exercise, and by people who want to track their fitness goals by keeping track of their numbers, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation, during exercise.

The telemetry system is being used for another purpose, one which may save the life of someone who at first glance appears to be the picture of health. “Because there have been so many recent deaths of young athletes on the field from undiagnosed heart arrhythmias, we’ve created a submaximal stress test for athletes called ‘HEART.’ This test allows us to interpret heart rhythms that may be lethal and report them to the athlete’s doctor,” explained Ms. Williams.

Ms. Williams emphasizes that the test, which can be used for people ages 8 and up, is not meant to exclude anyone from participating in sports. Rather, the purpose is to make sports safer for athletes. “If we can diagnose even one child, can you imagine how important this can be?” she remarked.

After a recent live broadcast on WNEP and Facebook Live featuring Ryan Lecky undergoing a stress test with the cardiac telemetry system, the YMCA has been receiving many inquiries from people interested in being tested on their own behalf and from parents who want to take that extra measure in verifying that their child’s heart is healthy and ready for sports.

Parents interested in having their child take the stress test or anyone wishing to take the test should call Lorrie Williams at the YMCA at (570) 282-2210, ext. 110 to schedule an intake screening. The intake screening takes about 30 minutes. If the screening indicates that the participant is in good health, the stress test will be scheduled. Taking the test requires about 90 minutes, with roughly 40 of those minutes spent exercising. To simulate the conditions of the playing field, a weighted vest and a high altitude mask may be used during the test.

YMCA staff is trained to recognize if a participant is experiencing distress and will stop the test if necessary, or at the participant’s request. Results of the test will be forwarded to the child’s doctor. The cost of the ‘HEART’ screening for athletes or the submaximal stress test for non-athletes is $35 for non-members and free for YMCA members.

The Greater Carbondale YMCA is the first YMCA in the nation to offer submaximal stress tests using a cardiac telemetry system and is pleased to offer them at an affordable cost. “We are so fortunate to have this available to our neighbors that all we want them to do is come in and do this. We want them to give us a call and become a part of their own health team, and their own health advocate,” said Ms. Williams.