Nov 17, 2016
Heart Screens Being Tested

This fall, the University of Texas’ Southwestern Medical Center is studying whether the use of electrocardiograms are an effective way to detect heart issues that can cause sudden cardiac arrest. The study may help determine whether a bill to require electrocardiogram testing for participation in football passes.

According to the Dallas News, the tests began in September, and by December, as many as 8,000 from four high schools in the Richardson and Keller Independent School Districts will be enrolled into the study.

Each year, approximately 6,300 American children who are 18 or younger go into cardiac arrest while not in a hospital. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of sudden death in young athletes, and 54 percent of those incidents happened to high school students. But a study from the NCAA found that only about 1 out of every 22,903 student-athletes between age 17 and 24 experience sudden cardiac arrest.

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Scott Stephens founded the the Cody Stephens Go Big or Go Home foundation in memory of his son, who died of sudden cardiac arrest in 2012. He said that at the time, he did not have the option of an ECG test, but he “certainly would have said yes” for one.

“I need to win over naysayers,” Stephens said.

Dr. Benjamin Levine, who is leading the study, said that any change in the standard of care would depend on the results.

“Proof is needed to support any change in the standard of care,” says Levine, director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at the UT Southwestern Medical Center  “Before we as a community undertake such an endeavor, we really need to know whether we help or hurt people.”

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