A new research suggests that very few physicians are heeding the guidelines issued by the American Heart Association (AHA) to prevent athlete death due to sudden cardiac death (SCD). SCD occurs when the heart stops beating suddenly due to an arrhythmia. These guidelines aim at helping doctors and coaches detect heart problems early on and prevent such senseless deaths.
Following the study of 1,100 pediatricians and family doctors, plus 317 high school athletic directors, all from Washington state it was found that less than half of physicians and only 6% of high school athletic directors were aware of these life-saving guidelines. This means many young athletes are at risk.
The AHA's screening guidelines stresses on 8 specific medical-history questions and 4 key elements in a physical exam. Before clearing the athletes to play, doctors need to ask them about chest pain during exercise, unexplained fainting and their family history of heart disease or early death. Doctors should also listen to the heart and check the blood pressure.
The study has been presented at the AHA's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.