Collapsing just short of finishing the Chevron Houston Marathon, 27 year old Alaina Dixon experienced what thousands of young athletes do every year, a sudden cardiac event. After questioned about her ordeal, her advice to young athletes everywhere was: get tested.
According to coronary artery researchers only around 4% of victims in Alaina’s type of cardiac event survive. Often times they are unsuspecting, healthy, young athletes. However to date, researchers can only trust peripheral and anecdotal sources of data such as coroners’ reports when analyzing congenital heart diseases like Alaina’s.
Drs. James Willerson and Paolo Angelin are trying to change that by providing free heart screenings to detect heart maladies. Their study is trying to further risk assessment of young athletes so any abnormalities can be detected and lives can be saved. According to the researchers 1% of youths have heart irregularities and between 15%-34% of young athletes who ultimately suffer a fatal sudden cardiac arrest are found to have these irregularities as well.
How to recognize the problem.
Typical medical evaluations that students and young athletes take part in, such as high school physicals, are not constructed to identify fatal heart problems. Whether the heart condition is sudden cardiac arrest related, which involves the electrical biorhythm of the heart, or coronary artery issues like Alaina’s, which occur during vigorous exercise when blood supply is cut off to the heart from the compressed artery, nearly all young athletes are completely unaware.
Hopefully this new, cardiac, young athlete research will result in a more detailed and comprehensive physical, giving student athletes and their parents peace of mind, and take the precautionary measures to ensure if a cardiac arrest should occur, it can be immediately treated.
I adamantly share in the researchers’ goal of detecting heart abnormalities to better prevent the untimely deaths of student athletes everywhere.
In Good Heart Health,