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Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Should all kids get screened for rare heart defect?



Ekg Should kids get EKG's to pick up rare heart conditions? That's the debate a national advocacy group is hoping to open up while it gives free screenings next week to hundreds of students in Hillsborough County.

As the story by our colleague Letitia Stein notes, Dr. Anne Curtis, USF's chief of cardiovascular disease, found perhaps one in 10 EKGs may pick up on something not perfectly normal. She could think of just one athlete who was told not to participate in sports in all her screenings.

"Probably the biggest debate about doing widespread screening is cost effectiveness," she said. "Does it make sense to screen many, many children to pick up a very rare occasional problem?"

In a private doctor's office, an EKG screening could cost $100 to $150, organizers estimated. They said the seven-school effort will cost about $250,000.

With health care costs a hot topic right now, the results of this widespread screening  by the national Cardiac Arrhythmia Syndromes Foundation should end up being good fodder for debate about cost vs. benefit, since 100 student athletes a year drop dead from unknown heart issues.

-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Photo: SKIP O’ROURKE | Times
Technician Casey Yanson hooks up leads on Plant High student Connor Shimberg to show how easily an EKG can be performed. Young athletes suffer about 100 sudden deaths in the U.S. a year.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:05am]


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