A heart screen includes a heart health survey covering cardiovascular symptoms and important family medical history, a physical exam including blood pressure and listening to heart sounds, and a resting 12-lead electrocardiogram also known as an ECG or EKG. An ECG is a non-invasive test that measures the electrical activity of the heart. Many of the conditions that cause sudden cardiac death in young athletes are detectable by ECG.
Heart screens are offered to any individual from 12 to 35 years of age and cost only $50. Patients with abnormal heart screens will require additional testing and/or cardiology consultation. Additional tests are billed to a patient’s insurance and performed at the University of Washington Medical Center Regional Heart Center or Seattle Children’s Hospital depending on the age of the patient.
While the heart screen evaluation can detect many of the heart conditions that place athletes at risk of a cardiovascular event during exercise, it does not screen for all causes. Thus, it is important to bring any new symptoms to the attention of a physician, including chest pain with exercise, passing out with exercise, unexplained fatigue or shortness of breath with exercise, or heart racing. Also, if a new heart problem develops in a family member, especially someone under the age of 40, patients should bring this to the attention of their physician. As young athletes mature, their hearts can change, too. A heart screen is recommended every one to two years while still active in competitive sports.
To schedule a youth heart screen, please call the UW Medicine Sports Medicine Center located at Husky Stadium at 206.598.DAWG (3294), Option 8.