Student Athlete Heart Screening at Pittsburg High School Finds Undiagnosed Heart Conditions

Posted on Mar 3, 2016

12804658_1082487145105695_6636230061540521430_nSutter Delta, Alta Bates Summit and Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation partnered with the Darius Jones Foundation and Pittsburg High School to give comprehensive cardiac screening to 154 student athletes Feb. 27.

“This screening identified six pre-existing heart conditions in student athletes that could potentially increase their risk of sudden cardiac death during vigorous physical activity and/or competitive sports,” says Vipul Gupta, M.D., Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation cardiologist. “We feel very fortunate to have caught these undiagnosed heart conditions.”

Thanks to more than 60 clinical and nonclinical volunteers from Sutter Delta, SEBMF and Alta Bates Summit, student athletes ages 15-18 received a painless, noninvasive, comprehensive cardiac screening that included a health history form completed by a parent or guardian, an electrocardiogram (EKG) that reads the heartbeat and, if necessary, an echocardiogram that captures an image of the heart.

The screening was open to boys and girls who play high school sports, including softball, baseball, football and wrestling. The undiagnosed heart conditions discovered included:

  • Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) is a congenital heart disease that is a hole between the two chambers of the heart—it normally closes on its own during infancy or childhood, but sometimes it does not. A small ASD may not cause problems, but a large and long-standing ASD can cause damage to the heart and lungs if left untreated.
  • Heart murmurs are sounds made by the movement of blood through the heart. These sounds can be heard with a stethoscope. They can be harmless or they may signify a problem with one of the heart valves, which may indicate a leakage where the valves do not close completely. Follow-up tests would be recommended to be sure there a serious underlying heart condition.
  • Mitral valve prolapse occurs when the heart’s left upper chamber (left atrium) and the left lower chamber (left ventricle) doesn’t close properly. Generally the patient does not have symptoms and may not need treatment, but monitoring is recommended because the walls of the heart can12790977_1082485575105852_1549336012057151971_n thicken over time.

“It is really unfortunate to see young athletes collapse on the courts in this era. With a simple, thorough screening, these athletes can be found and saved. This is what we have taken the oath for, to save every life we can,” says Saba Lahsaei, M.D., Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation cardiologist.

The undiagnosed conditions discovered at Saturday’s event will require a follow-up and perhaps long-term monitoring and other prevenetive measures.

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