About us

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.

FAQs

We will measure your child's blood pressure and perform an EKG. This should take less than ten minutes. Download, print and fill out the questionnaire and consent form and bring them to your appointment.

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 emailed to you in a week.

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 false positive. The EKG may initially suggest a heart problem, but further testing with an echocardiogram (ultrasound of heart) may show that there is no problem. As many as ten percent of screening EKG's are false positive.

We realize that this may cause anxiety for parents and children. We believe that the benefit of this screening strategy 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.

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. The results will be emailed to you in a week.

Screening is completely voluntary in the United States, although it is required in multiple countries. Under our current health care system, it would be very expensive to screen everyone 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.

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 does not include a physical examination. We recommend your health care provider perform regular examinations. If a heart murmur is detected, further evaluations may be appropriate.

Yes. A parent or guardian must accompany the young person to the screening.

Bring the signed consent form and completed questionnaire. A parent or guardian may sign the consent form at the screening clinic. Participants should wear comfortable clothing.

The average age for sudden cardiac arrest in young people is 17.

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.

Providence Heart and Vascular Institute

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.

Free Youth Heart Screenings

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Make a donation » Our pledge is to offer Play Smart Screenings at no charge. You can help with a tax-deductible donation.

Special thanks to our friends and supporters. Because we all have a stake in the game.