Tim Webert of Plymouth was at his son’s hockey game when he witnessed the tragedy of a seemingly healthy young boy dying because of an undiagnosed congenital heart condition.
“We immediately wondered if our kids had healthy hearts,” Webert said. “As I sought options to have their hearts checked, I was told there are no readily accessible tests that are both accurate and affordable.”
And so Webert left a high-powered career in marketing and product development to create a new corporation dedicated to this task, called PraeVeni (pronounced pray-VEN-ee).
The result is a low-cost, state-of-the-art youth heart-screening center in Eden Prairie, offering tests that cost about $150 (far less than the alternative battery of tests, which typically costs more than $1,000).
Webert said the screenings — which take about 15 minutes — can rule out 95 percent of known sudden cardiac death (SCD) risk associations.
Dr. James Seward, a professor emeritus of adult and pediatric cardiology at Mayo Clinic, developed the test, which focuses on heart and blood vessel features associated with SCD.
Most heart problems in young people are present at birth and become unstable over time, but they show no outward signs or symptoms, silently evolving for years.
“The goal of the test is to affirm that key heart and blood vessel features are normal, and if they can’t be affirmed normal, to help identify the emerging risk features as early as possible,” Webert said.
Roughly 1 out of 10 children are born with a congenital heart condition, of which 30 percent will have moderate to severe lifelong heart risk.
So far PraeVeni has screened more than 1,700 young people and has ruled out abnormalities for all but 2 percent of participants, a ratio consistent with that of the general population.
Participants identified with a possible abnormality are referred to a physician for follow-up consultations.
Learn more at youthheartcheck.com.