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Put your Mind to Rest with Cardiac Screening

It's heart wrenching when you turn on ESPN's Sports Center and one of their top stories is that a young athlete has passed.  Many of those that follow either Sports Center, or that of the larger newscasts, have seen that there have been a few sudden deaths of athletes across the country.  Many of which are linked to some type of heart abnormality. 

It is stated that approximately 1 in 280,000 men under the age of 30 will die of a sudden cardiac death in a year.  Congenital cardiovascular abnormality is the most common cause of death in men 35 years and younger.  Within the group of congenital cardiovascular abnormalities, the three most common are; Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, anomalous origin of the coronary artery, and Marfan's Syndrome.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is when there is a thickened cardiac muscle but there really is no change in the muscle.  With this condition there are some signs and symptoms.  A person may experience increase ventricular arrhythmia.  The ventricles more than likely prematurely contract either not allowing them to completely fill to capacity, or not pushing all of the blood that is in them out. 

An anomalous origin of the coronary artery involves one of the two coronary arteries.  Coronary arteries supply blood to the heart muscle.  With this issue, one of the coronary arteries starts at a different place than normal.  It would be thought that this would not cause a problem, but this can cause compromised blood flow around the heart.

Marfan's Syndrome is a syndrome that affects the connective tissue in the body.  The structures of the heart are made of connective tissues, so there can be a weakening of these tissues.  This can pose a problem if the tissues weaken in the heart, either the valves or that of the arteries themselves. 

The three conditions mentioned are not the only possible causes.  Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) can be caused by narrowing of the arteries, enlargement of the right ventricle, abnormalities with either the atrioventricular node, or sinus node, a murmur, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, or myocarditis due to a viral infection.

There are also non-cardiac sudden deaths.  These deaths are attributed to drugs, vascular events, or obstructive respiratory disease.  But commonly there are no signs and symptoms, but that is not the case in some cardiac cases.  The symptoms are those of normal cardiac issues.

It has been suggested that the number of sudden deaths can be decreased with early diagnosis.  This can be done with a normal cardiac screening provided by a physician. Please do not think that this is something that won’t happen in this area; it already has in years past.  Let's try and keep our kids safe.

Christine McKennas is an Athletic Trainer at North Pocono High School, and works out of the North Pocono ProCare Physical Therapy facility.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact her at, or at (570) 842-8191

Sports and Recreation, General Health, Promoting Healthy Lifestyles, Cardiac Direction


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