Play Smart is staffed by a team of highly-trained cardiac professionals and cardiologists, led by medical director, James Beckerman, MD. Our team screens young people for potentially dangerous heart conditions and collaborates with community partners to make screenings accessible to as many young people as possible.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, is a heart condition that can be inherited as the result of an abnormal gene that is passed down from parent to child. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can affect each person differently, and many who have the genetic abnormality never develop a heart problem. HCM also can be caused by high blood pressure or aging. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the No. 1 cause of sudden cardiac arrest in young people.
Screening is completely voluntary in the United States, although it is required in some other countries, including Italy and Israel. Under our current health care system, it would be very expensive to screen everyone for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with an electrocardiogram, or EKG. Your donations and our partners make it possible for us to offer this service free of charge.
We understand that no screening strategy is perfect. It is possible that some young people with normal screens could suffer a cardiac event. And others who are diagnosed with a cardiac abnormality may never develop symptoms. This uncertainty may cause anxiety or frustration, and could limit some students from participating in competitive athletics. But we believe that current data support our voluntary screening strategy, and we support ongoing research on youth heart screenings.
The risk of developing problems related to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and other cardiac conditions increases with age, and the possibility of having a cardiac event increases with physical activity, such as school sports.
Yes. A parent or guardian must accompany the young person to the screening.
An EKG — an electrocardiogram, also called ECG — is a painless, noninvasive test that measures heart rate and the heart's electrical activity. Stickers called electrodes are placed on the bare chest. Wires connect the electrodes to an EKG machine, which records and analyzes the heart's electrical activity. The test takes about five minutes. The results of the heart screening will be sent to you.
There are two possibilities. The first is that your child may have a heart problem, which requires further evaluation.
The second possibility is that the EKG had a falsely abnormal finding. This "false positive"may suggest a heart problem, but further testing with an echocardiogram may show that there is no problem. As many as 10 percent of screening EKGs are falsely abnormal.
We realize that this may cause anxiety for parents and children. We believe that the benefit of this potentially lifesaving screening outweighs the drawbacks of a false-positive.
There are some heart conditions that may not be detected with an electrocardiogram, so a normal screen cannot rule out all forms of heart disease. Until further testing is available, however, this is the best tool. And while an EKG will detect most cases of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, it is still possible to have this condition even with a normal EKG.
Current international recommendations are to repeat the EKG every other year. Given the absence of widespread EKG screening in the United States, there are no specific guidelines.
An echocardiogram is a painless, noninvasive ultrasound test to evaluate the heart's structure and function. It does not involve radiation. The participant lies on an examination table while an ultrasound technician moves a wand-like device against the chest to capture images of the heart. You will be informed if your child needs this test.
A heart murmur is the sound of blood moving through the heart. It is often a normal finding with a physical exam, but can be associated with heart abnormalities. The Play Smart screening is designed to screen for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and rhythm abnormalities, but it also may detect the cause of some heart murmurs.
The cardiologist who reads your child's electrocardiogram and echocardiogram will recommend a full evaluation by your child's physician. A list of pediatric cardiologists also will be provided to you.
No. This is health care information that will be shared only with you, your child's physician and medical personnel involved with the event.
We are the largest provider of cardiac services throughout Oregon. More than 80 highly skilled cardiologists and surgeons care for more than 13,000 patients each year, integrating patient education and prevention with advanced diagnostics and treatment.
Make a donation » Our pledge is to offer Play Smart™ Screenings at no charge. You can help with a tax-deductible donation.
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