Screenings Can Prevent Undetected Heart DefectsAuthor: Diplomat Pharmacy Date: January 28, 2020
Jackson Pfister, 15, was playing backup quarterback in the final quarter of Esko High School’s varsity football game against neighboring Aitkin High, in Minnesota, when he collapsed, and later died.
“According to the preliminary report from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office, Jackson Pfister's death was due to congenital heart disease, a condition he had since birth.,” the Duluth News Tribune reported.1
The Centers for Disease Control estimates there are 2 to 3 million individuals in the United States living with congenital heart defects (CHDs); however, the disease is hard to track. CHDs affect approximately one in 100 births every year in the United States, making them the most common type of birth defect. CHDs are as common as autism and 25 times more common than cystic fibrosis; however, due to the lack of symptoms, people tend to be less aware of this condition.2 Exposure to the dangers of this condition is often spotlighted with the sudden and surprising death of professional athletes, such as Jason Collier, who died in 2005 during the NBA off-season while training with the Atlanta Hawks, due to an undiagnosed enlarged heart.3
It often comes as a shock when a young, physically-fit person such as Jackson and Jason can suddenly collapse and even die from heart-related issues. To prevent this from happening, many professional sports organizations have made a heart screening a pre-play requirement and some high schools across the country have followed suit.4
Outside agencies have also gotten involved helping to provide access to medical equipment such as automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) and to provide free health screenings for teens, such as the Thomas Smith Memorial Foundation.5 The screenings look at heart rhythms to determine if there are any signs of enlargement or other heart-related defects.
Often linked to genetics, common examples of congenital heart defects include holes in the inside walls of the heart and narrowed or leaky valves. In more severe forms of CHDs, blood vessels or heart chambers may be missing, poorly formed, or misplaced.2 The word congenital means that the heart condition is something that you are born with and is not the result of an ailment or disease. These types of heart conditions are an abnormality in the development of the heart.6
Depending on the type of abnormality, the care and treatment, as well as any symptoms or lack thereof, can vary significantly; however, the initial diagnostic evaluations are largely the same.
The American Heart Association outlines the process: “At your appointment, your cardiologist will take your medical history and perform a physical exam. He or she may also order an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), chest X-ray or an echocardiogram (ultrasound movie of the heart),” both of which are noninvasive procedures. They may also order blood tests.7
Parents are encouraged to seek heart screenings for their children. Search online for local foundations that perform free screenings or set up an appointment with your pediatrician. Many congenital heart conditions may not present symptoms, so it is important to have regular check-ups with your doctor. Early detection can help with treatment that may prevent disability or death early in life.
Most Recent PostsMay 13, 2020
Laughter as Medicine: How Humor Helps With a Chronic ConditionMay 13, 2020
Exercise and Chronic Conditions
You Might Also Like
- Caregiver Preparing for the School Year: A Caregiver’s Guide
- Lifestyle Weathering a Storm When You Have a Chronic Condition
- Nutrition Getting Your Child a Healthy Breakfast On the Go
- Recipes Healthy Dark Chocolate S'mores Recipe
- Lifestyle End-of-Life Care Options: Difficult but Necessary Conversations
- Lifestyle The Diplomat Winter Activity Book: Fun at Home for Kids