This fall in the Chicago area, privately funded ECG testing for high school athletes once again protected student lives.
The Daily Herald reports that Konrad Mueller, a football and lacrosse player, didn’t think he needed an ECG test. He was astonished when a test his freshman year revealed that he had a heart problem — the sort of undetected heart abnormality that triggers sudden cardiac arrest in more than 7,000 children a year.
Mueller owes that life-saving discovery to one of several heart-screening programs funded by private organizations, including Midwest Heart and the Max Schewitz Foundation. The tests they offer at Chicago-area schools are purely voluntary, and parents must sign a consent form before a student is tested. The Schewitz Foundation was started by Mary Beth Schewitz and friends after her 20-year-old died from sudden cardiac arrest as the result of an undiagnosed heart condition.
Cardiologist Joe Marek of Midwest Heart predicts that, in coming years, ECG testing for high school athletes will become a standard of care, paid for by insurance. But currently it must be paid for by students’ families unless it is underwritten by a foundation program. Midwest Heart has provided subsidized testing for more than 50,000 students.
Dr. Raymond Kawasaki, who tests students through a similar program created by Advocate Good Shepard Hospital in Barrington, Illinois, told the Daily Herald that the screenings are intended to find underlying conditions that have no symptoms — until a student athlete collapses from sudden cardiac arrest.
“Some people believe as long as you’re not symptomatic, it’s not necessary to do these tests on patients, and that’s not correct,” Kawasaki told the paper. “It’s very important.
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