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PLAY BETTER WITH CARDIAC HEALTH
by Professor Stern, MBA
It is well known that athletes should receive a physical, otherwise known as a
Pre-Participation Physical Evaluation (PPE), about 6-weeks before their season starts.
However, one important portion of the exam that needs more emphasis is the cardiac
examination. It is the unfortunate truth that cardiac death is a leading medical cause of
death in athletes. It is estimated that 100-200 high school athletes die each year from
sudden cardiac arrest.
The EKG test
is a cardiac examination that has been gaining more attention recently as
schools debate to make this a mandatory test. An EKG test checks for problems with the
heart’s electrical activity. The goal of the EKG is to identify cardiac abnormalities.
Today our athletes are fueling their bodies much differently than they did years ago. Our
training regimens have increased with new methods and equipment. We have also seen a
tremendous increase in the options of sports, reaching a much broader range of athletes
that are bigger, stronger, and faster than ever before. We have made similar gains in
technology and we now have the capacity to keep our athletes safer from events that are
avoidable such as cardiac arrest.
question its effectiveness, saying it would lead to thousands of false-positives
each year, which would lead to further, more expensive testing that isn't necessary. Some
cardiology experts are concerned about the test's' reliability and the expertise of those
conducting and reviewing them.
In March, the
Texas House of Representatives Public Education Committee voted on a bill
requiring all high school athletes in the State of Texas to received EKG tests
considered the head-of-the-country model in youth sports health policy after setting up a
massive high school steroids testing program in 2007. (State lawmakers are poised to scrap
it this year after spending more than $10 million and catching only a handful of cheaters).
The EKG testing fees will fall on the schools and the teams.
It is unfortunate that money is always a factor in the world of health, but the issue is simple. If
the EKG test can save even one life, isn’t it worth it? While the test might be an economic
burden or take some time to address how the results are interpreted, I feel the test will only
give the athlete, the family, the school, and the team more knowledge about the condition of
each athlete. The more we know about their physical state, the better we can protect them.