Heart Screenings Can Prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is the #1 killer of student athletes and contributes to the #2 medical cause of death under 25. While the heart conditions that put youth at risk for SCA can sometimes be revealed through warning signs and family risk factors, for many the first symptom is death.

That’s why it’s critical to ask your doctor about getting a heart screening for your child. Typical physicals include auscultation (using a stethoscope to listen to the heart). But most heart conditions that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest can only be seen, not heard, not to mention that the stethoscope is 200-year-old technology. We can do better for our children.

A comprehensive heart screening includes an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), which takes a picture of the heartbeat. It’s a quick, painless, non-invasive test that evaluates atypical heart rhythms caused by electrical or structural abnormalities that a child is born with, or can develop as they grow.

Based on warning signs or family heart history revealed in a cardiac risk assessment, or conditions that are flagged on the EKG, a more comprehensive heart screening can include an echocardiogram, which is like an ultrasound of the heart. Sometimes the doctor will also order a stress test to evaluate the heart rhythm in relation to physical activity.

Once identified, heart conditions that put youth at risk for SCA can be managed through monitoring, medication, corrective surgery or implanted devices that can prevent sudden cardiac arrest. In many cases, the youth’s physical activity does not have to be curtailed. Doesn’t it make sense to identify a potentially fatal condition before tragedy strikes?

As parents we spend time and money preparing kids to participate in activities they love, but we often overlook being sure their hearts are healthy enough to play. We should not lose thousands of children each year to an outcome that could be prevented.

Heart Screenings Can Prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest
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