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New Cardiac Screening May Reduce Sudden Death In Young Athletes

July 31, 2012

Augusta, GA – It’s estimated that more than 110 heart-related deaths occur in young athletes each year, 80% of these victims experience no abnormal cardiac signs or symptoms.  Sadly, there have been four local cases of apparent sudden cardiac death (SCD) just in the last 3 years where athletes aged 17-24 simply collapsed during exercise without warning. Doctors Hospital is offering the first and only screening of its kind in the area, helping to detect these cardiac problems before they present themselves.

“We recognize that for many families, any avoidable risk is too much to chance,” says Dr. Anthony Burke, Board-Certified Cardiologist for Doctors Hospital.  “What we have developed is a next-level screening for young, asymptomatic athletes.” 

Most sudden deaths in athletes are due to cardiovascular disease – especially disease of the heart muscle called cardiomyopathy.  Predicting the risk of sudden death in athletes involves screening them for hidden heart conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congenital structural abnormalities and heart rhythm disturbances. 

Currently, available screening tests are not perfect in detecting which young athletes are at risk and there is ongoing debate about which testes should be done routinely.  However, all experts recommend a history and physical examination that targets specific heart conditions prior to participation in sport activities.

“We are really excited to offer this type of screening because we feel confident that it could help  prevent a tragedy for a family,” says Dr. Burke.

The European Society of Cardiologists and the International Olympic Committee recommend a routine EKG and the American Heart Association agrees that an EKG will detect more at risk conditions. However, the American Heart Association has not advocated and EKG as an absolute requirement to participate in sports because it could be costly on a national level and because there is always risk of a false positive.

What does the cardiac screening include?   

The one-hour diagnostic screening includes an electrocardiogram and limited echocardiogram designed to uncover important cardiac conditions that may go undiscovered in regular sports physical examinations.

Eligibility for the cardiac screening:

  • Age 12-22
  • No current cardiac symptoms
  • No previous history of cardiac diagnosis/problems

Cost of the screening: $180 (Cash Only) – No Insurance Required

To schedule your screening: Call 706-651-4343

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