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Free cardiac screening for athletes in Grades 9-12. Should your child get tested?

Should your child take advantage of one of the cardiac screening tests? By now you’ve seen the social media posts offering free student athlete screenings at St. Francis. We did the legwork..

There is some controversy over whether these tests are necessary. What we’ve found is that 1 in 80,000 student athletes die each year from sudden cardiac arrest. That’s a low number, but the rate increases to 1 in 50,000 among college athletes. This translates into about 75 deaths per year (see chart below). But if your child is one of those 75, taking this non-invasive test could be a safe, easy and possibly preventive measure.

Causes of death (under the age of 25)

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YES, your child should get a cardiac screening

Many doctors believe that a cardiac screening can help prevent spontaneous deaths due to sudden cardiac arrest. If your spouse or you have heart problems or have family history of heart problems, and your child plays sports, then getting a cardiac screening may be right for your child. Your medical history should be a part of your child’s file and symptoms of heart problems such as shortness of breath or swelling may be an indication of something more serious.

NO. Your child shouldn’t get a cardiac screening

Some believe that cardiac screenings of all students, or all student athletes may do more harm than good. As many as 1 in 10 EKGs detects a potential abnormality. “Even after follow-up testing, it can be unclear which cases are life-threatening, so kids with low risk could be restricted from exercise or given life-altering interventions such as implantable defibrillators, surgery or anti-arrhythmic medications.” In some cases, students have been restricted from physical activity. After undergoing extensive and expensive tests it was determined that they were clear to play.

What exactly is a student athlete screening?

While there are different programs across the United States that offer similar opportunities, many student athlete screenings include an EKG and an echocardiogram.  Both of these tests are non-invasive.

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EKG Image Courtesy: Pexels

EKG: A healthy heart beats at a certain rhythm. Using sensors that are placed on the chest as your child lay still, the EKG records and prints  the patterns of the heart as it beats. Doctors will refer to the print out to determine if the heart is beating properly.

 

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Image: DavidDarling.info

 

Echocardiogram: Similar to the EKG, your child will have sensors placed on their body. They will lie still on their side, while the tests uses ultrasound to create a picture of your heart (see above). Viewing the heart helps doctors determine the size and shape of your heart as well as how well blood is able to move through it. Blood flow can help doctors determine if the heart is pumping properly. According to DavidDarling.info, there are two other cardiograms that may be required for those undergoing tests to determine heart health:

Stress echocardiography: a stress echocardiograph is taken while the heart is beating a higher rate, such as while the patient is exercising on a treadmill.

Transesophageal echocardiography: in certain cases, the doctor may want to see the aorta or other parts of the heart.In this test, the transducer is attached to the end of a flexible tube that’s guided down the throat and into the esophagus (the tube leading from your mouth to your stomach) to get a more detailed image of your heart.

For more in-depth information as well as the difference between an EKG and an echocardiogram, click here for Vistacollegepro’s extensive post.

St. Francis Student Athlete Screening

As part of their mission in the community, St. Francis Hospital conducts free cardiac screenings for student athletes. In order to get a screening, all students are required to have:
– Consent form
– Medical history form completed by their parent prior to the evaluation
– Proper picture ID is required
– Must be accompanied by a parent
During the assessment, an EKG and echocardiogram will be performed. Results from the tests will be available immediately following the screening and interpreted by the physician conducting the assessment.
An appointment is needed for each screening and will be made on a first come, first serve basis. Please call to schedule an appointment. Screenings are offered once a month during the school year.

Ages:

Schedule:

Time:

Grades 9-12 only

Appointment Only

6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Type: Prevention and Diagnosis
Fee: No fee, but pre-registration is required
Location: St. Francis Hospital, Cardiac Imaging department
100 Port Washington Blvd.
Roslyn, New York, 11576
Phone for
Info:
516-629-2013 for scheduling information
Notes: check http://www.stfrancisheartcenter.com/education/StudentCardiacScreening.html for schedule

 

  • For more information about what’s right for your child, be sure to consult with your Primary Care Physician. SCOUTjr.com aims to provide all readers with information about important topics, but does not provide advice or guidelines. 

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