April 3, 2014

Vanderbilt hosts free heart screening for young athletes, Saturday, April 5

Sudden cardiac arrest, when the heart stops beating unexpectedly, is the No. 1 cause of death of student athletes.

The Program for Injury Prevention in Youth Sports (PIPYS) and the Pediatric Heart Institute at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt are teaming with Simon’s Fund, a nonprofit organization, to provide free student heart screenings during Final Four weekend.

WHO: Students ages 10-19
WHEN: Saturday, April 5, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
WHERE: Vanderbilt Recreation and Wellness Center, 2700 Children’s Way

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required at www.simonsfund.org/get-screened/register.

“According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, every year 2,000 children die from sudden cardiac arrest. A screening like this, which includes a physical exam, medical history and EKG, is the most effective way for detecting a cardiovascular abnormality and just may save someone's life,” said Alex Diamond, D.O., MPH, assistant professor of Pediatrics and Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation and medical director of PIPYS.

Sudden cardiac arrest happens when the heart stops beating unexpectedly. The only way to prevent it is to get tested and watch for warning signs, including fainting or chest pain during exercise, unexplained shortness of breath, rapid heart rate and extreme dizziness or fatigue.

“The traditional pre-sports screening based upon history and physical exam remains important, but often inadequate," said Frank Fish, M.D., professor of Pediatric Cardiology at Children’s Hospital. "Many of the conditions posing a risk to athletes are undetectable by exam, and the first symptom could prove to be a fatal event. It is clear that an EKG increases the ability to detect underlying conditions that may increase the risk for sudden cardiac death. However, challenges remain in distinguishing clinically important abnormalities from benign EKG variations commonly seen in athletes.”

Simon’s Fund was established in 2005 in memory of Simon Sudman, a seemingly healthy three month old that died in his sleep. The organization provides free heart screenings to students and through awareness and advocacy wants to make screening the hearts of children a standard of care in this country.

“The Program for Injury Prevention in Youth Sports at Vanderbilt is dedicated to promoting the health, safety and wellness of young athletes. We are extremely proud to work with Simon's Fund and our Pediatric Heart Institute to raise awareness about conditions that lead to sudden cardiac arrest,” Diamond said.