WHY MY CHILD SHOULD GET A HEART SCREENING
The human body changes during puberty both externally and internally in a variety of ways. One of these internal changes is the structure of the heart. In middle school, students push their bodies to new levels as they mature and get bigger and stronger. Because of these physical changes and the increased stresses on a student’s heart, heart screening should be part of a physical at least once while in middle school and once in high school.
A simple heart screening can help detect problems before they become major medical issues. While we recommend all students get an ECG / EKG (used interchangeably), you should definitely be screened if you:
• compete in high impact sports that increases your heart rate for an extended period
• have a family history indicating that there is a heart disease risk
• get dizziness during athletics
• experience fainting spells or weakness while participating
• get shortness of breath that does not clear quickly
• get chest pain while participating
HOW IS THE HEART SCREENING DONE?
Heart screening can detect a variety of potentially catastrophic genetic diseases. The simplest level of testing is an EKG / ECG, which looks at the electrical signals that the heart uses to contract and circulate blood through the body and lungs. An ECG involves placing electrodes on the chest around the heart to record those signals. The test is easy, painless, non-invasive and takes less than 5 minutes. It does not involve needles, blood work, radiation exposure or sedation. Boys will remove their shirts. Girls should wear a regular bra or sports bra, which will not need to be removed.
A Pediatric cardiologist from Nemours will review the ECG, which can detect a large number of heart diseases such as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) or thickening of the heart muscle, Long QT Syndrome, Wolff-Parkinson-White Disease, Arrhythmia, and Abnormal Right Ventricular Disease, which are all electrical conduction issues.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU FIND A PROBLEM?
On average 96% of all student athletes have a normal ECG and are considered at low risk for cardiac issues. About 3.5% of all results suggest something that requires further testing, most often an Echocardiogram (Echo). The Echo is used to get a picture of the heart similar to an ultrasound to look at a baby during pregnancy. The Echo looks for valve and vein structure, muscle thickness, and proper operation of the heart. Most rarely, but most importantly, statistics show that 1 in 2000 student athletes are at risk for sudden cardiac death (0.5% overall)
WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE WITH THE RESULTS?
We print two copies; one to you and one to the docs. If there is an abnormality the doctor will call you and your pediatrician, normally within 5 days. You can take your copy to your pediatrician. After Heart In The Game hears from our docs, we send a mass email to all others from the event telling everyone else they are ‘good to go’!
WHAT IS THE COST?
It’s just $15 per student, compared to upwards of $150 at the hospital. Many times the costs are covered by a booster club, PTA or a benefactor. HEART IN THE GAME would never turn away someone who cannot afford the fee.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I GET THIS DONE?
A heart screening should be part of a physical at least once while in middle school and once in high school due to the physical changes and the increased stresses on a student's heart.
WISH TO BRING HEART IN THE GAME TO YOUR SCHOOL?
The $15.00 per student can be paid individually. Many times a booster club, PTA or benefactor will support the event. The minimum number of students would be 50. We can do upwards of 240. Each EKG machine can handle 12 students per hour. We have 10 machines. So, for example, if we were given 2 hours during the school day, we could very possibly screen 240 students. Athletes have 2 times the possibility of SCA than non-athletes. African-Americans have a higher incidence of SCA than other ethnic groups. Call for details about bringing Heart In The Game to your school.
Questions: Greer@HeartInTheGame.org 302.494.3133