The purpose of screening our children before signing up for competitive sports is simple: we want our kids to be safe. There are heart conditions that can lead to abnormal rhythms of the heart or even sudden death with exercise.
Screening can be done in many ways. Take your child to visit your primary care physician especially if there is a history of a genetic cardiac condition in the family.
To see if your child needs to work with a cardiologist before engaging in competitive sports, The American Heart Association currently recommends the use of a checklist. We have summarized the checklist below to help you understand the main points. When it comes to a child’s personal history, doctors want to know the following:
- Has there been any chest pain or discomfort when a child exerts themselves
- Unexplained fainting or near fainting episodes
- Excessive trouble breathing or palpitations with exercise
- History of a heart murmur, high blood pressure, prior restriction from sports for any reason, or prior testing of the heart ordered by a doctor
We also ask about family history. We want to know if someone in the family under the age of 50 died or is disabled due to a heart condition. It is also helpful to know if someone in the family was told they have a genetic cardiac condition such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, long QT syndrome, or Marfan syndrome, to name a few.
The last part of the checklist is in the physical exam done by the doctor. We listen for heart murmurs, feel the pulses in the arteries, check the blood pressure, and look for any other signs that can point to a genetic disease.
If you have any questions or concerns about this, please reach out to your primary care physician or one of our board certified cardiologists.
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