TINTON FALLS - As a nationwide effort is under way to make testing student athletes for heart problems mandatory, a Tinton Falls school has voluntarily begun its own program to prevent deaths from undiagnosed heart issues.

Using an electronic stethoscope, the nurse at the Ranney School listens to student heart valves. In just 15 minutes, the school nurse is able to determine if a student has a clean bill of health.

The stethoscope connects to special software on the laptop. It listens for irregular sounds and then shows staff if there's a problem. In a trial program at the school, 19 students were tested and eight of them had irregular sounds detected.

Right now, the testing program at the Ranney School is only voluntary. Students with irregular tests had to be cleared by their pediatricians and a cardiologist before returning to sports.

The American Heart Association says it supports this kind of student athlete heart screening.