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Federal Way Football Player’s Passes from Heart Condition

Federal Way football player passes from HCM

EVERETT, Wash. -- Darla Varrenti wants everyone to know how to help in an emergency.

In 2004, at the age of 16, her son, Nicholas, went into cardiac arrest and died in his sleep.

“That’s when we found out that he had a heart condition and it was hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. They call it HCM for short,” says Darla.

It’s the same condition the King County medical examiner says killed 16-year-old Allen Harris on Tuesday. The Federal Way School District says the football player died after participating in a summer conditioning workout.

“Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is one of the leading causes of sudden death in young athletes,” says Dr. Jonathan Drezner, director of UW Medicine Center for Sports Cardiology.

Drezner says HCM is an abnormal enlargement of the heart and it’s prone to lethal arrhythmias. It can be detected with one simple test. However, a test, Drezner says, is not typically included in a regular sports physical.

“It can be diagnosed by an EKG. Most athletes with diseases like HCM do not have warning symptoms,” says Drezner.

He encourages parents to have this conversation with their child’s doctor. And request their young athlete have an EKG every couple of years, between the ages of 14 and 24.

“The reality is the screenings we do don’t really ensure heart safety. So an EKG can do a much better job,”says Drezner.

Treatment of the disease can include modifying activity, but it varies from patient to patient.

Bottom line, knowledge is the key. That’s why Darla founded the Nick of Time Foundation, in honor of Nicholas.

She travels all around Western Washington, screening kids with a portable EKG.

“We’ve screened over 22,000 kids and we’ve had over 500 that we’ve found have needed a follow-up,” says Darla.

She says it’s not about stopping kids from doing what they love.

“We want to make sure that they are safe to do the things because it’s too late for our family, but we don’t want it to be too late for other families,” says Darla.

Story Credit: https://q13fox.com/2018/07/25/specialist-heart-condition-that-resulted-in-federal-way-football-players-death-is-easy-to-detect/

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