Protecting our children is our top priority as parents. When they are small, we bandage their scraped knees and groom them when they get sick. As they get older, we worry about sprains, strains and broken bones when they take to the field or track as aspiring athletes. What often doesn’t cross your mind is the possibility of an undetected heart condition that can be dangerous if left undiagnosed. We are here to explain the importance of EKG heart exams during routine sports physical exercise, which AdventHealth can provide to your children.
What is an EKG?
An EKG is an electrocardiogram. They monitor the electrical signals that control how the heart beats and pumps blood. They are non-invasive and useful for detecting heart disease and rhythm abnormalities. They can be done in a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital.
EKGs for Pediatric Athletes
It is common to assume that children and young adults have healthy hearts because they are young. Add to that the fact that a young person is an athlete and you see him as the image of health. The risk of sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes is 2.5 times greater than in non-athletes. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the most common cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes, affects one in 500 people.
It is prudent for young athletes to undergo not only a physical examination that includes a general examination and a thorough health and family history, but also an EKG to identify athletes at risk. Being active and exercising is encouraged, especially when it comes to preventing heart disease and childhood obesity. At the same time, it is important to ensure that children play safely, especially those who engage in more intense sports in high school.
Health and family history
Consider the following questions about your family’s health history and share the answers to your child’s physical. If there is a “yes”, they need further evaluation:
Has your child ever fainted during exercise? Has your child ever had chest pain during exercise? Has anyone in your family ever died of sudden heart failure?
Know the Warning Signs
While SCA is rare in athletes, it’s always best to be on the safe side. In addition to having your child get a sports physio, including an EKG, be aware of the following warning signs before they exercise:
Chest pain Dizziness Fainting Palpitations Unusual shortness of breath Unusual fatigue Weakness
Time for a heart to heart
We are here for all the care needs of your children. If you notice any of the above symptoms, or if you have anything in your family history that needs to be discussed, make an appointment with your child’s GP as soon as possible. If they are otherwise healthy, talk to your pediatrician about scheduling an EKG at your aspiring athlete’s next physical. Their safety is our top priority.