Heart screenings for student athletes encouraged

May 13, 2011

Some experts believe student athletes should be screened periodically for heart problems.

On what seems to be an annual basis, reports arise about an otherwise healthy athlete's heart stopping suddenly during a match. Though the cases may be rare, many heart specialists at the University of Michigan argue that more needs to be done to try to identify athletes who may be at risk for sudden death.

However, many of the researchers involved agree that more work needs to be done to determine an effective form of screening and the most accurate heart test that can reveal an athlete's vulnerability to sudden cardiac arrest.

"One of the major obstacles to developing a better screening process is that no one heart test is the best," said Dr. Mark Russell, a pediatric cardiologist at the university's children's hospital. "There are a number of different heart conditions that can cause sudden death in a young athlete."

According to researchers, a trial screening program implemented in Israel found that mandatory ECGs were ineffective in identifying at-risk athletes.

With no proof that this process may help reduce sudden cardiac death, some parents may find comfort in investing in life insurance for children who participate in sports. In the event that a tragedy occurs, this policy may provide them with money to cover funeral expenses.  

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