Heart screening can help prevent sudden cardiac death in kids

Heart screening can help prevent sudden cardiac death in kids

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Every year more than 110 athletes die of heart problems. Most of the time it's from sudden cardiac death.

With seven cases of sudden cardiac death in the CSRA in the past, experts at Doctor's Hospital say a standard physical may not be enough.

"Physical exams don't pick up on certain defects that would cause a cardiac death," says John Ellis, the manager of Rehab and Sports Medicine. 

Many parents think their children are perfectly healthy, but Ellis says with sudden cardiac death, often there are no warning signs.

"Eighty percent of the time during a sudden death, the young athlete or the child doesn't even show any kinds of symptoms whatsoever of any heart trouble until they're dead," Ellis says. 

The screening is made up of an EKG and an Echo-Cardiogram. It looks for structural defects and rhythm abnormalities in the heart.

Ellis says while heart problems aren't common in kids and teens, participating in sports can be a trigger for sudden cardiac death.

"Because they're in athletics that challenges the cardiac muscle and exercise intensity is at a high point, that intensity can bring out a problem like that and expose a defect or something that can cause sudden death," he says.

He recommends teens and children get screened a few times a year because of developmental changes.

For more information on sudden cardiac death click here, and for information on testing for SCD at Doctor's Hospital, click here.

Copyright 2014 WFXG. All rights reserved.