Sudden Death, Young Athletes

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Currently there are no guidelines to help identify sudden cardiac deaths, so Dr. Eric Walchak is conducting a study to see what puts young athletes most at risk for the condition.

The condition is caused by a heart defect, and even though athletes undergo annual physicals, it's not usually detected until intense exercise triggers a fatal heart rhythm. Ingham Regional Medical Center doctors say there have been at least four deaths since 1997.

"For most people the standard test at their family physicians office will be adequate for a physical, but there are 200 kids annually and one out of 200,000 kids that die from sudden death. Our study will hopefully identify what causes the defect," Dr. Walchak.

Thirty to 45 percent of sudden deaths in athletes are caused by an enlargement of the heart. An echocardiogram is one test that can spot the condition. That test and others will be offered free of charge to those who qualify for the study.

Screenings will be held July 13 and Nov. 9 at the Ingham Regional Medical Center Greenlawn Campus. Participants must be between 14 to 24-years-old, compete in a sport (they don't need to be active in it at the time of the screening).

Call 1-877-224-4325 to pre-register. If the participant is under 18, they must be accompanied by an adult.

This is a good idea for students planning to participate in fall sports to sign up, as well as get their annual physicals.