Screening for Sudden Cardiac Death in Athletes

Screening for Sudden Cardiac Death in Athletes (Image 1)

It's estimated that heart related issues claim the lives of hundreds of young athletes each year in the U.S.. These deaths are often sudden and undetected. But University Hospital joined forces with A.R. Johnson and Augusta Tech in an effort to reduce the risks of athletic youth here at home.

When you think of the South, it's hard not to think sports– football, basketball, baseball. It's a tradition for many to be active at a young age. Health officials here at home are hoping to turn heart health into a tradition for young athletes and their families.

Dr. Mac Bowman with University Hospital explains, “we do baseline vital signs, checking of cholesterol, blood sugar, but also looking at electrocardiograms or heart tracing to access their heart rhythms. Then, an abbreviated echocardiogram.”

Dr. Bowman and the University Health team volunteer to host screenings like this to pin-point health issues in student athletes in grades 6 through 12.

Dr. Bowman says that some of these screenings could cost more than $2,000, but thanks to the help of the University Health Care Foundation these student athletes can get those same screenings for free;

A costly factor for many athletes and parents in attendance.

Cybil Minter, a mother says, “it's free and it's a great opportunity to come in and see if they're heart healthy.”

Minter is one of several parents who's heard the horrifying stories of healthy athletes dropping dead, and wanted her son Tyson to have a clean bill of health as geared up for play at Westside High. “It's very helpful to make sure that he's safe and the least thing I have to worry about is his heart and what's going on with his health,”she says.

But what do the athletes think?

David Thomas, a swimmer from Aquinas High School, says “I think all people should just come out here.”

Tyson Minter,  from Westside High School adds, “because I don't want to end up like some of them unfortunate deaths out there.”

“I look to the future to see if I'm going to live a healthy life,” offers Santos Pagan, a soccer player at Aquinas High School.

Dr. Bowman says that if your student athlete experiences unexplained shortness of breath, chest discomfort or spells of unconsciousness, they should get to a doctor because these could be warning signs of heart problems.

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