Each year, about 300 U.S. high school and college players die suddenly from heart conditions, said
Overall, sports trainers at 10
“Screening with an EKG, if done the right way, is beneficial,” said Magalski, author of related research reported in March at an American College of Cardiology conference. “The question is the logistics and the cost and the further testing that’s required because the EKG is just a screening tool.”
The study was led by
Seventeen students in the study had mitral valve prolapse, meaning the valve between the upper and lower chambers of the heart didn’t close properly. Six were diagnosed with high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs, which makes the heart work harder than normal, the researchers found. Two athletes had defects in aortic valves.
Electrocardiograms, or EKGs, can determine if the heart has abnormalities such as chamber walls that are too thick. Screening for defects can enable athletes to take measures to minimize the risk that sports play will aggravate aberrations.
Screening has generated debate because some athletes have abnormal EKG test results caused by workouts. Some doctors discount the EKGs and others say the screening isn’t cost effective.
An individual EKG costs between $25 and $50, Magalski said, while a follow-up echocardiogram costs up to $600.
The Texas researchers said laptop equipment could be provided to school districts for about $500, according to a statement from the heart association. DeBauche declined to comment in advance of the research presentation.
The issue of heart risks for student athletes gained national prominence in March 1990 when Hank Gathers, a 23-year- old basketball player, collapsed during a game at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.