Screening can spot heart conditions in healthy kids

March 18th, 2011 - 2:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 18 (IANS) A relatively low-cost screening might help identify children who are at risk of sudden cardiac arrest, possibly preventing childhood death.

A pilot study in healthy children and adolescents shows that it is feasible to screen for undiagnosed heart conditions that increase the risk of a sudden cardiac arrest.

Adding a 10-minute electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) to a history and physical examination identified unsuspected cases of potentially serious heart conditions, the American Heart Journal reports.

In children, sudden cardiac arrest is caused by structural or electrical abnormalities in the heart that frequently cause no symptoms and may go undiagnosed, according to a statement of the Children’s Hospital.

The current study evaluated 400 healthy subjects, 5-19 year olds, recruited from Children’s Hospital’s Care Network.

“The current American Heart Association guidelines recommend screening only competitive athletes, not all children,” said study leader Victoria L. Vetter, paediatric cardiologist at The Children’s Hospital, Philadelphia.

She noted that in Italy and Japan, which have compulsory screening of all athletes or schoolchildren, researchers have found that adding an ECG to the history and physical increases the likelihood of detecting children at risk for SCA.

“Our pilot study evaluated the feasibility of adding an ECG to cardiac screening of healthy school-aged children,” Vetter added.

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