The American Academy of Pediatrics published new guidelines recommending all kids be tested for conditions that could lead to sudden cardiac arrest or sudden death. They further stated this testing should be done by the time a child is the age for entering middle school.
To date, many organizations have focused their efforts on protecting young athletes from hidden heart conditions. The new guidelines remind us of the wide-spread risk and that the loss of life of a non-athlete is just as tragic as the loss of an athlete.
This article provides a personal look at the importance of heart screenings.
When my younger sister was 18, she began fainting in her dorm room at the University of Colorado Boulder. By the time I passed out in a parking lot a year and a half later — at age 24 — we knew that a genetic heart arrhythmia called Long QT Syndrome (Type 2) was the culprit. An electrical abnormality that made our hearts quiver instead of pump, Long QT could have caused both of us to die of cardiac arrest.
My sister and I were lucky; our hearts resumed a normal rhythm quickly enough that we survived. But for too many families, the sudden death of a young person provides their first inkling that a genetic heart disorder runs in the family. Researchers estimate that more than 7,000 young people die each year of sudden cardiac death. Regular screenings by pediatricians — regardless of a youth’s athletic status — could change this.
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