Entries in ECG (3)


ECG Screening in Young Athletes Not Very Accurate?

Comstock/Thinkstock(STANFORD, Calif.) -- After recent media coverage of a number of sudden cardiac deaths in young athletes, some people became louder in their demands for better heart health screening of young athletes -- specifically asking for mandatory electrocardiograms, or ECGs, to be a part of the already required physical exams.  

But the view of many heart rhythm specialists is that the ECG is not an appropriate test as it does not detect the type of heart abnormality most associated in sudden cardiac deaths in young athletes.  

A Stanford University study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, gives further support to this view, showing that when it comes to interpreting ECG screens, pediatric cardiologists are only 67 percent accurate.  

Though this study is very small -- involving only 53 physicians reading 18 ECG screens -- the authors conclude that ECGs are not very effective at correctly identifying children with heart defects who should not participate in sports, nor are they any better at clearing healthy ones for physical activity.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Should Teens Be Screened for Heart Problems?

Comstock/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Medical experts have long debated whether teens, particularly athletes, should be screened for heart conditions.  When young athletes such as Wes Leonard, the young Michigan basketball player who died in early March moments after scoring the winning shot for his team, literally drop dead due to underlying heart conditions, parents and physicians begin to wonder if there is anything that can be done to prevent it from happening. 

In some countries in Europe, all high school age children undergo electrocardiograms, or ECGs, to check for certain heart defects.  This isn't done in the U.S., however, because many experts think general screening isn't efficient and wouldn't lead to a sizable reduction in sudden deaths in young adults.

However, by screening over 50,000 high school students in the greater Chicago area using ECG, researchers at the Midwest Heart Foundation detected particular heart conditions, known to be associated with sudden cardiac death, in 2.16 percent of the kids.  They argue their findings show that ECG screening is beneficial and should be implemented as part of a physical for all high school students.

Even so, four out of five medical experts consulted tell ABC News they still don't think such screening is justified.

The lone supporter of general screening recalled that once, when telling the father of a teen volleyball player who had died on the court that ECG screening isn't cost effective, the grieving father replied, "Be sure to include the cost of the funeral."

The Midwest Foundation Thursday presented the argument for teen heart screenings at the Heart Rhythm Society meeting in San Francisco.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


Could ECG Screenings Have Saved Teen Athletes?

Comstock/Thinkstock Images(FORT WORTH, Texas) -- The sudden deaths of two high school athletes within days have many parents and support groups fighting for heart screenings of all athletes.

Matthew Hammerdorfer, a 17-year-old from Larimer County, Colorado took a powerful hit to the chest during a rugby game Saturday and collapsed on the field.  He was airlifted to a hospital, where he died.

An autopsy performed Sunday found the cause of Hammerdorfer's death was cardiomegaly and biventricular hypertrophy, which means an enlarged heart and enlarged ventricles.  The Larimer County deputy coroner Kari Jones, however, noted that the family knew about Hammerdorfer's genetic heart condition.  Hammerdorfer had previously undergone three heart surgeries because of his heart condition, according to Jones.

Despite the worrisome idea that participating in a vigorous sport like rugby contributed to Hammerdorfer's death, experts said his parents' previous knowledge of his heart condition precludes the idea that mandatory screening could have prevented it.

Hammerdorfer's death came days after Michigan high school basketball player Wes Leonard collapsed and died after scoring the winning shot for his team, leaving his coach, team and the community devastated.

Both young men's deaths were caused by sudden cardiac death, and experts said it occurs far too often in young athletes.

An average of 40 young athletes die from heart disease in the United States a year.  That's approximately one death every nine days.

Many experts said recognition of early warnings signs is crucial in preventing sudden death.  But advocacy groups want additional screening measures, believing broader screening could save lives.

Parent Heart Watch is one such group working to encourage awareness and preventive measures that would avert such deaths.  It believes young athletes should get early and mandatory electrocardiograph, or ECG, screening, which looks at the activity of the heart over time.

Other groups also want schools and teams to have heart defibrillators at games, and have coaches and parents learn CPR.´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio