Sudden Cardiac Arrest & Genetic Disorders
Monday, 13 May 2013 12:28

SCD Leading Cause of Death Among Youth Athletes But Can Be Prevented

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We talk a lot about concussion's but many of you may not know that the #1 killer among young athletes is Sudden Cardiac Arrest (aka SCD). SCD is another silent threat like concussion's but can be more fatal the first time around than with a concussion. In fact, more deaths among youth athletes are reported as a result of SCD than all other issues combined. Research shows that a young athlete dies once every three days from SCD.

Common causes of SCD come from structral heart defect or hypertrophic cadiomyopathy (thickend heart muscle) which usually show very few symptoms until it is too late.

The even scarier part of SCD? Its is usually caused from a pre-exsisting condition that can be detected, prevented and treated but most often is not. This is one reason we are strongly for Pre-Season physical examinations each year before your child participates in any organized youth sports. However, a physical exam is not a fail-safe against detecting any and all heart related issues before it is too late. Things can be missed depending on the issue and the doctor checking your child.

Most exams consist of checking family medical history, blood pressure and listening to the heart. If those don't raise any red flags the condition can be missed and additional tests won't be done. This is why it is critical for your child to have regular medical check-ups, even if not getting ready to play sports. The more check-ups, the better the chance of finding any possible issues that might have been missed in previous exams.

There are other ways of better detecting possible heart related issues but they too can have their drawbacks. Most doctors recommend having what is called an electrocardigram (EKG or ECC) test as part of your child's pre-season test. An EKG can see abnormal activity of the heart

Some drawbacks of EKG's are not that they won't detect them, instead it's that they can cause what is termed "false-positives" or detect an abnormality that is not significant (non-life threatening). It is estimated that 20% of EKG's in the U.S. come back as a false positive. It is for this reasoning why most may not be covered by most insurances in most cases and as a result they can cost anywhere from as little as $25 to as much as $150 in addition to the cost of the physical exam..

This can not only lead to undue stress on the patient (child) and the family but will ultimately result in more tests such as X-Rays, Bloodwork, CT Scans and more which can cost the family more money.

Due to the amount of false-positives that can happen and the additional expenses they can lead to that may be for unwarrented causes, The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force has advised doctors against screening otherwise healthy patients or patients at low risk for heart disease and is the basis for why most insurances won't cover a standalone preventative screening.

In our opinion however, it is better to be safe than sorry but than again, it's your call not ours... It never hurts to at least ask your doctor and your insurance company on their policy regarding such tests. If you still determine it would be in your and your child's best interest to have the test, you can still request to have the test done, it is your right.

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