Former student athlete's pursuit of cardiology rooted in experience after heart attack

It was a pivotal moment in high school for Alex Bowerson that he attributes to his life plans now.

While at wrestling practice, the Memphis Michigan-native began to feel a tight pain in his chest after a short jog. Then it got worse.

"It was a very big pain in my chest, and then it was about 10 seconds and I hit the floor," he said. "Next thing I know I was in the back of an ambulance."

Years later, Bowerson would be diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a rare genetic condition characterized by a thickening of the heart muscle. But in the moment of crisis at high school, it was the quick thinking of his school's cheer coach that had emergency first response training and started performing CPR on him immediately. 

She also used an external defibrillator or AED.

"The A-E-D was applied to me. I was shocked once and my heart restored rhythm," he said.

Bowerson hasn't just adjusted his lifestyle around heart health. He's training to become a specialist in it. The upcoming cardiologist is now an ambassador for getting heart health in the front of teenager's minds everywhere. 

That's because unexpected cardiac arrest is the leading cause of deaths among student athletes. One in 200,000 will suddenly die, most without any prior symptoms. 

That trend is why Jennifer Shea, a Beaumont Student Heart Check program manager is pushing for student scans to become more frequent. That includes options from the hospital, which is hosting free student heart checks for kids ages 13-18.

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"They get a blood pressure check. Each one learns how to do hands-only CPR and how to use an AED," she said. "Then they see one of our cardiologists and they get an EKG, a history and physical and then a quick-look echo cardiogram."

The next event for student heart check-ups is Saturday, Aug. 5 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cass Tech high school. Register here.