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Many Physicians Unfamiliar with Student-Athlete Heart Screening Guidelines

from American Medical News

News reports of teenagers collapsing from sudden cardiac arrest at high school sports events have fueled debate about the best way to screen young athletes for cardiac risks.

As the medical community considers requiring electrocardiograms, echocardiograms or other tests for all athletes, some physicians argue that the focus first should be on implementing uniform standards and reporting methods nationwide.

"The process is so random in its current form that we don't know where improvement needs to start," said Nicolas L. Madsen, MD, MPH, a pediatric cardiology fellow at Seattle Children's Hospital. "Before moving forward with new screening methods, it's important to standardize the process so that we can really tell what works and what doesn't."

There's no mandatory reporting mechanism for such deaths, so recent studies show a wide range of one in every 30,000 to 200,000 U.S. high school athletes dies annually from sudden cardiac arrest, he said. There are national guidelines for sudden cardiac death risk screening, but it's unknown how widely they are used. more

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