Heart Hospital of Austin provides free heart screenings to young athletes twice a year—once in February and then again in August prior to each school year—to provide early detection of heart irregularities, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). HCM is a serious genetic heart condition in which the heart muscle thickens. It affects 1 in 500 student athletes every year, often without any warning or symptoms, and it is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes.
As school sports programs ramp up, it’s important that young athletes be screened by a cardiologist. During the screening, students between the ages of 14 and 18 receive an electrocardiogram (EKG) and a limited two-dimensional echocardiogram, or ultrasound of the heart, to detect HCM. Both the EKG and echocardiogram, which take about five minutes each, are noninvasive and painless. The results of the screening are reviewed by a cardiologist and are available immediately. During the screenings, kids and parents are also taught compression-only CPR.
This month’s heart-screening event took place on Saturday, Aug. 15. To date, more than 6,000 young athletes have been screened at Heart Hospital of Austin.
The next student athlete heart screenings will occur in February 2016. To view footage from a previous heart-screening event, click here.
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