Every three days, a young athlete somewhere in the United States collapses and dies due to an undetected heart problem. It’s a tragedy that Gian Corrado, MD, who works in Sports Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, has seen unfold firsthand. He was an undergraduate playing pick-up basketball when one of his teammates died suddenly on the court.
“It’s uncommon,” he says, “but it’s not so uncommon that it may not touch you. It happens, and we have no effective, efficient way to screen for it.”
There is a lot of interest in using heart screening in young athletes to reduce sudden death risk . The NCAA’s chief medical office recently suggested that it may be useful to routinely perform electrocardiograms (EKGs) and possibly other cardiac tests on some collegiate level athletes. A January 2016 opinion piece on this issue in the New York Times drew a lot of attention. Cardiac screening has also been proposed for other groups, such as children starting certain types of medications.
But there’s widespread debate in medical circles about such broad usage of EKGs. Why is this so controversial? If it’s such a valuable test, why doesn’t everyone get routine EKGs? …Read More