Pediatric Sports Cardiology
While rare, hidden heart defects can pose a serious or life-threatening risk to children and adolescents, particularly young athletes. In partnership with Children’s Health Heart Center, Children’s Health Andrews Institute offers cardiac screenings to spot the potential for these silent conditions. Our specialists work with families to manage the risk effectively and appropriately.
Sports Cardiology Services: Detecting Heart Defects in Young Athletes
Sudden cardiac arrest in adolescents is sometimes referred to as a “silent killer” because a child is often symptomless—until the heart suddenly stops beating, often during some type of physical or sport activity.
Thankfully, cardiac screenings can often alert doctors to the potential for one of these heart conditions. In conjunction with pediatric sports cardiology specialists from UT Southwestern, we offer services and screenings to detect and manage heart conditions to avoid sudden cardiac events in young athletes.
Youth Sports Physicals
Our sports medicine physicians offer pre-participation sports physicals, for individuals and groups, at our office. This is often the first step to spotting a potential heart problem in young athletes.
Your child may be asked to undergo additional screening if he or she has:
- A family history of heart disease
- Chest pain or shortness of breath with exertion
- Dizziness or fainting during physical activity
- A sensation of skipped heart beats
Preventive Heart Tests
We may refer patients to our UT Southwestern pediatric sports cardiologist, who will do a more comprehensive evaluation to determine the risk of a potential heart problem. These cardiac specialists have expert experience managing rarer, more complex cardiac cases in children and adolescents.
A full cardiac evaluation may include an:
- EKG, or electrocardiogram: This test uses electrodes attached to the body to provide insight into the heart’s rhythms.
- Echocardiogram: This test measures how well the heart works using ultrasound waves.
- Treadmill test: As your child walks on a treadmill, this test measures how the heart reacts to stress or activity.
Managing Heart Defects in Young Athletes
If testing points to a potential heart condition, our team will walk you through what that means for you and your child. This includes:
- Helping you understand the risks, as every child and condition is unique
- Educating you on the signs and symptoms to watch out for
- Ensuring you’re prepared for an unlikely cardiac event, such as getting CPR training
- Making recommendations on physical activity, if applicable
Heart Defects in Young Athletes: Outreach Efforts
In the event of sudden cardiac arrest, 3 to 5 minutes can mean the difference between life and death. While that may be a scary thought, knowing how to recognize cardiac symptoms and take appropriate action in an emergency can save lives. Learn more about what it means to be a heart-safe school from Project ADAM.
To spread awareness on this rare but important issue, our athletic trainers reach out to area school districts and sports organizations. We aim to educate the greater Dallas-Fort Worth community about the silent dangers of heart defects in young athletes and help them recognize cardiac symptoms.
We provide training on:
- How to use and obtain AEDs (automatic external defibrillators), which are portable devices that can treat sudden cardiac arrest
- CPR tactics for students, teachers and faculty
- Emergency action plans, a planned set of steps a school or organization can take in the case of any trauma or emergency
For more information on preventive heart screenings or to make an appointment, please call 469-303-3000.