The Truth about EKG Screenings


We have all heard stories about kids that are seemingly in excellent health, collapsing suddenly, only to later learn it was caused by an unknown heart condition. What many parents don’t know is that most heart defects can be identified before something happens and most are treatable…..IF they get the proper tests.

  • EKG’s, are a valuable test when performed on adults, however, are only useful for diagnosing electrical heart abnormalities in youth.
  • A normal EKG does not exclude you from having a serious heart condition.
  • 1 out of 10 EKG screenings will miss important conditions like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association
  • Those that rely on EKG’s as the primary source of screening youth are typically looking for as few as 3 obvious conditions associated with sudden death, HCM, WPW, and Long-QT.
  • In terms of HCM, the single most common cause of athletic field deaths, there is particular concern about relying on a single screening ECG obtained at a single point in time to exclude this disease. Circulation. 2014;130:1303-1334 
  • EKG’s will only assist in picking up 57% of the issues that cause sudden death and echo is needed to confirm 45% of those. Circulation. 2007;115:1643-1655
  • There are at least 18 distinct types of congenital heart defects, with as many as 40 anatomic variations. American Heart Association
  • Fifteen percent (15%) of Congenital heart defects are considered to be a direct cause of genetics. Centers for Disease Control
  • The false positive/negative rate is between 6 to 30% depending on the expertise of the physician assisting with interpretation. AMSSM Position Statement on Cardiovascular Preparticipation Screening in Athletes: Current Evidence, Knowledge Gaps, Recommendations, andFuture Directions. 09.2016
  • The second leading cause of sudden death (anomalous coronary artery) is not detectable with EKG. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Volume 35, Issue 6, May 2000, Pages 1493–1501
  • EKG’s can miss potentially, dangerous structural heart conditions, like valve abnormalities and septal defects. Circulation. 2014;130:1303-1334
Insist on a complete heart screening….insist on an ATS HeartCheck!
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The Truth about EKG Screenings

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