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Parenting: EKG Could Save Your Child's Life

EKG could save your child's life

(Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

If you’re the parent of a young athlete, listen up. You think your child is healthy. Ten fingers. Ten toes. They grow taller and run and jump and swim. They look every bit the picture of good health. But some very serious problems can lurk under the surface.

Last week, a friend shared that her 7-year-old daughter, a swimmer and very athletic kid, was recently diagnosed with a serious heart condition. She had been sick with some bug, something that had been going around, but even after the virus ran its course, she didn’t feel right. Just to rule out the serious stuff, the doctor ordered an EKG. They discovered she has Wolff Parkinson White syndrome. Soon, she’ll undergo a two-and-a-half-hour procedure at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami to fix it.

It also just happens that in this same week, Lee Health announced free heart screenings for young athletes.

Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death among young athletes, the announcement stated. Often there are no advanced warnings or symptoms. These are the kids you occasionally hear about in the news, kids who suddenly collapse on the basketball court or some other sports venue.

Chances are you child is fine. Chances are that your child’s heart is beating along just the way it’s supposed to beat. But occasionally, that’s not the case, as a 7-year-old swimmer can attest, and a simple EKG can help spot many problems before they become fatal.

Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami has been offering free EKGs to young athletes for years. After a thousand screenings, they encountered their first save, a young athletic boy who also had Wolff Parkinson White syndrome. He and his family now tell their story in a video for the hospital on YouTube. In total, the hospital reports it has screened over 3,000 children and teens and found about two dozen kids who might be at risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

An EKG is a simple test. It doesn’t hurt, and it only takes about five minutes. I had one a few years ago when a rapid heartbeat gave me a scare (turned out to be nothing, but it’s better to get checked). The medical staff places 10 stickers on your chest, arms and legs; they hook up some wires to the stickers and use that to look at the electrical activity of the heart.

My kids were tested a long time ago, because my husband was born with aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the aorta, and a bicuspid valve (it had two flaps instead of the normal, more efficient three). Heart conditions can run in the family, we were told. Luckily, his heart condition didn’t get passed down.

Story Credit: http://www.news-press.com/story/life/moms/pamela-hayford/2017/05/14/parenting-ekg-could-save-your-childs-life/101562798/