Why do heart conditions that put youth at risk go undetected?
- Standard history and physical evaluation misses up to 90% of youth at risk
- An EKG can detect 2/3 of heart conditions that can lead to SCA
- Often youth don’t report or recognize symptoms of a potential heart condition
- Parents/Guardians assume youth are okay and just “check the box” on medical forms without asking their child about symptoms
- Youth experiencing symptoms regularly don’t recognize these as potentially life-threatening-it’s normal to them
What is an electrocardiogram?
An electrocardiogram (also known as an EKG or ECG) is a quick, painless and noninvasive test that measures and records a moment in time of the heart’s electrical activity through small electrode patches attached to the skin of your chest. arms and legs by a technician.
Why add an EKG to the pre-participation physical evaluation?
Adding an EKG to the pre-participation physical evaluation (PPE) will identify most heart conditions that can lead to SCA and prevent disabilities and sudden death in youth.
- An EKG can be ordered by your physician for screening for heart disease or for a variety of symptoms or a family history of heart disease and will generally be paid for by insurance (ICD 10-CM Code Z03.89).
- EKGs should be read by a medical practitioner proficient in the age group being screened, utilizing current International Criteria for ECG Interpretation in Athletes.
- Like any screening test. if the EKG is abnormal. additional testing and consultation should be done before a diagnosis is made.
- One screening using EKG does not clear the student-athlete for life.
- EKGs should be performed at regular intervals combined with cardiac risk assessment for new symptoms or relevant family history.
What are the risks of practicing or playing after experiencing any warning sign or symptom?
By continuing to practice or play without seeking medical attention you risk suffering sudden cardiac arrest. which without immediate action by people nearby could result in death or brain damage. Survival rates are under 10%.
What if student-athlete is diagnosed with a heart condition that puts him/her at risk for SCA?
- Your medical provider will inform you of the recommended treatment plan. which could include taking medication. making lifestyle modifications to reduce risk (which sometimes means refraining from competitive sports). surgery to correct the issue. or implantable devices that monitor or treat your heart rhythm.
- You will need clearance in writing from a licensed medical practitioner according to the California Interscholastic Federation bylaws or state laws.
- It’s important to share the student-athlete’s treatment plan with school administration. athletic trainers. coaches or any other leaders. As youth caregivers. they must be aware so they can help monitor your child’s condition.
What are some of the causes of Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
- Congenital (runs in families) disease
- Acquired disease (Kawasaki and others)
- Viral heart infection (myocarditis)
- Heart conditions that result from abnormal heart structure or functions
- An abnormality in the electrical system of the heart
- An impact to the chest directly over the heart, also known as commotio cordis
- Drugs (recreational or prescribed) or stimulants that affect the electrical system of the heart. such as performance enhancing or high-caffeine energy drinks or supplements and diet pills