Wednesday, March 21, 2007

12 Steps to Reducing Sudden Death in Young Athletes

news you may not know

Competitive Fish


Seem Safe...

It's confusing, really. Just last week your son was trying out for the high school basketball team and now... He's enrolled in a 12-step program. How did this happen? Maybe you were too busy bragging about him making the team, or making plans to attend the games with your sister. Life seemed so good.

Then, seeming as if it was the most natural thing in the world, your son waltzed in and asked you to sign the 12-step participation permission slip. Well, you really had no choice. So, here you are, waiting for your son's first session to end. Let's see - that would be the questions about his personal history. Chest pain, unexplained fainting - that type thing. Then, they'll move on to any family history relevant to heart disease and...

Hmm... Seems like a rather odd 12-step program.

That's because this particular 12-step program is a screening tool designed to reduce the incidence of sudden death in young athletes. Each of the "12 steps" is in actuality a question or a physical assessment dealing with heart related health issues. The first 5 questions probe potential problems with the athlete - issues dealing with chest pain, heart murmur and high blood pressure. The next 3 questions probe issues relating to the athlete's family and their health - incidences of heart disease, arrhythmias or long QT syndrome. The final 4 steps are components of a physical examination assessing heart and arterial fitness.

The 12 steps are contained within the Recommendations for Preparticipation Cardiovascular Screening of Competitive Athletes. This 1996 statement of the Sudden Death Committee of the American Heart Association was recently updated without major revisions.

According to the panel, sudden death among young athletes is both relatively rare and more common than previously estimated. An assessment of high school athletes in Minnesota places the incidence of sudden death at 1 in 200,000 annually. Schools do appear to be making improvement in screening for potential problems. The panel reports that 81% of schools provided adequate screening in 2005, up from just 55% in 1997.

The panel recommends the development of a national standard to assess the cardiovascular fitness of all high school and college athletes.

Your cellphone rings - it's your mother-in-law. You switch off the power and drop the phone in your pocket. You barely survived the holidays - how will you ever explain Josh's new little "program?"

To read more about the recent review, see this from ScienceDaily. To read the complete 1996 Recommendations for Preparticipation Cardiovascular Screening of Competitive Athletes see this from the American Heart Association.


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