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HEADLINE: CHILDREN'S MEDICINE: Track, treat unhealthy hearts


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  • HEADLINE: CHILDREN'S MEDICINE: Track, treat unhealthy hearts

    Copyright 2003 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

    September 11, 2003 Thursday Home Edition

    SECTION: Editorial; Pg. 15A

    LENGTH: 578 words

    HEADLINE: CHILDREN'S MEDICINE: Track, treat unhealthy hearts


    SOURCE: For the Journal-Constitution


    Sudden death in high school athletes is a topic that has received a lot
    of attention recently. Contrary to what many recent articles and news
    broadcasts have said, however, the children who have died suddenly on the
    playing field were not completely healthy. They often do not have normal

    Instead, these children have serious heart conditions that have not been
    diagnosed. Early detection of heart problems can decrease the odds of losing
    another Georgia child to sudden cardiac arrest.

    Sudden cardiac arrest in young people is rare. It affects one in 200,000
    children. Many of the causes for sudden cardiac arrest are genetic. This
    means there are often other family members with heart conditions. Parents
    who are worried about the safety of their children can start with a simple
    step --- getting an accurate family health history.

    Has a child in your family ever died from sudden infant death syndrome?
    SIDS is the sudden death of an infant younger than age 1 that cannot be
    explained even after a complete investigation.

    Have there been sudden deaths at a young age or accidental deaths from
    car accidents or drowning? These types of accidents could have been caused
    by sudden cardiac arrest while driving or swimming.

    Does your family have a history of seizures, sudden fainting or deafness
    at birth?

    Are there exercise-related complaints, such as chest pain, dizziness or
    fainting after heavy exercise, heart palpitations and shortness of breath?

    These symptoms do not necessarily mean your child has a heart condition.
    However, they are important warning signs and should not be ignored.

    A complete family history is the foundation of the pre-participation form
    recommended by the Georgia High School Association. The form is online at
    www.choa.org/sportsmed. Depending on the answers to the form's questions,
    the doctor doing the screening may see the traits or symptoms of a genetic
    heart condition.

    From there, the doctor will suggest more tests, if needed. One could be
    an echocardiogram, which screens for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. HCM is the
    leading cause of sudden death in young athletes, but no more than 20 percent
    to 30 percent of sudden death cases are caused by HCM.

    That is why an echocardiogram is a good place to start, but it will not
    rule out every condition. Typically, an entire series of tests is needed to
    diagnose a child's heart condition. For example, an electrocardiogram would
    be needed to rule out a condition such as Long QT Syndrome.

    Parents and doctors must also remember there are "silent carriers." These
    are children with no symptoms and normal resting heart rates. Therefore, a
    negative family history does not necessarily mean that a child will not have
    heart problems. Sudden death is not always predictable --- the first sign
    may be cardiac arrest.

    Primary prevention is key to preventing sudden cardiac arrest. It
    includes early detection and appropriate management of an identified heart
    problem. Secondary prevention includes CPR training, installing automated
    external defibrillators in public places and ensuring that each community
    has a reliable rapid response system in place.

    Just one of these methods, such as the use of AEDs, is not enough. It is
    through the combination of these primary and secondary prevention methods
    that we can help protect children.

    Dr. Robert M. Campbell is chief medical officer at Sibley Heart Center at
    Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

  • #2
    Re: HEADLINE: CHILDREN'S MEDICINE: Track, treat unhealthy he

    Dr Campbell is well known to the HCMA and I think this is a wonderful article!

    Thanks Dr. Campbell!!!!

    Knowledge is power ... Stay informed!
    YOU can make a difference - all you have to do is try!

    Dx age 12 current age 46 and counting!
    lost: 5 family members to HCM (SCD, Stroke, CHF)
    Others diagnosed living with HCM (or gene +) include - daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, sister and many many friends!
    Therapy - ICD (implanted 97, 01, 04 and 11, medication
    Currently not obstructed
    Complications - unnecessary pacemaker and stroke (unrelated to each other)