A Cardiac Controversy: Sudden deaths of young athletes fuel the heart screening debate

This article does a solid job of sharing the complexities of the “ECG” debate.  We are working closely with other organizations that provide ECG testing (like Dr. Marek) to centralize our data, in the hopes of providing valid information so that we can truly have an articulate dialogue.

This report originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of DOTmed Business News

On a Thursday night in March, Wes Leonard, a 16-year-old basketball star, led his Fennville, Mich., high school team to victory, scoring a lay-up shot in overtime.

Leonard’s teammates picked him up and carried him through the gym. Just moments into the celebration, the teen collapsed.

Hours after being rushed to a local hospital, he was pronounced dead. Leonard suffered a cardiac arrest due to dilated cardiomyopathy — an enlarged heart.

The Fennville Blackhawks are far from alone in losing a teammate and a friend to sudden death. And when a young athlete dies during a sporting event, the tragedy makes headlines nationwide.

“The whole issue of athletes and sudden death is emotionally charged,” says Dr. Douglas P. Zipes, a distinguished professor emeritus of medicine with the Indiana University School of Medicine. “You have a youngster who is supposed to represent the epitome of health, and all of the sudden, he’s essentially struck by lightning.”

Both parents and medical professionals share a common aim to reduce and ideally prevent sudden deaths in student athletes.

But when it comes to formulating a strategy to achieve that goal, opinion and practice diverge, with rifts even within the cardiology community.


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