Feb 25, 2021, 10:03:35 AM CST Feb 23, 2023, 3:55:23 PM CST

High blood pressure reveals a heart defect in an active football player

Diagnosed with hypertension and a heart abnormality at 16, John found expert cardiac care to help get him back on the field

John at football game John at football game

John at football gameJohn and his twin brother, William, have always been active. Whether they were running around outside as children, playing baseball or showing their strength as linebackers on their high school's varsity football team, if there's one word to describe them, it's athletic.

So when John's pediatrician, Sarah Moore, M.D., at Hometown Pediatrics, noticed his blood pressure was abnormally high at his annual exam, it came as a complete shock to the 16-year-old and his family. He never had any previous health issues.

Dr. Moore immediately referred him to Clarisa Garcia, M.D., Pediatric Cardiologist and Medical Director at Pediatric Cardiology Associates of Houston, part of the Children's Health℠ Care Network. "Hypertension can have no symptoms," says Dr. Garcia. "Routine blood pressure screenings can help diagnose an underlying medical problem and prevent serious problems later on."

We are so thankful that we were in the right expert hands to know exactly what to look for and how to fix it.
Lorie, John's mom

Quick access to cardiac care helps John fully recover

A scan of John's heart revealed that he had a congenital heart defect known as coarctation of the aorta, which was prohibiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood through his body. Dr. Garcia scheduled John for surgery to place a stent to help open the blood vessel just six days later.

"Those two weeks, from his appointment at the pediatrician's office to surgery, were such a whirlwind," says John's mom, Lorie. "We are so thankful that we were in the right expert hands to know exactly what to look for and how to fix it. I still can't believe how quickly the doors opened for John to take care of this."

John and Dr. GarciaA week after surgery, John was back to light activity. By his follow-up visit just four weeks later, Dr. Garcia cleared him to return to the football field – an exciting milestone for John who is now in his junior year of high school.

"Our goal is to help all children and teens with heart conditions lead a full, active life as safely as possible," says Dr. Garcia.

John regularly monitors his blood pressure from home and reports his numbers to Dr. Garcia, to help make sure that his stent is remaining effective. With an expert cardiac team right there to support him, John's able to focus on making tackles on the field and preparing for what's next after high school.

Learn more

Routine screenings can detect high blood pressure in children and teens and help prevent future health risks. With a team of cardiologists that spans from Dallas and Tyler to Houston and Lufkin, we provide expert diagnosis and effective treatment for the full spectrum of pediatric heart conditions. Learn more about the Heart Center.

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cardiology, heart health, hypertension, patient story, treatment

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