Reports of sudden deaths among young healthy athletes on the field is soon expected to be cut down with the introduction of the new screening program.
NBC4's Dr. Bruce Hensel reported that the new screening program will be part of the medical screening of a young Italian athlete teen before he's allowed to play sports. This screening is mainly to detect heart problems that might not have apparent signs or symptoms.
Dr. Gaetano Thiene with the Padua Center for Sports Medicine said, "The major effort indeed is to identify these people and then disqualify from sport activity. Don't forget that the sport activity and effort is a trigger for sudden death in people affected."
Dr. Gaetano Thiene of the Center for Sports Medicine and Physical Activity in Padua, Italy, was part of a study about preventing sudden death in athletes. The doctors carefully screened more than 40,000 young Italian athletes, ages 12 to 35, for signs of heart problems by using the patient's history and performing a physical exam and electrocardiogram.
Thiene said, "The screening was able to identify people affected by concealed disease and disqualify them from sport activity."
The study has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and it found. that over 26 years, the pre-participation screening reduced the incidence of sudden death in young athletes by almost 90 percent.
Thiene said, "And this was absolutely amazing because this was proving that the pre-participation screening is a life-saving tool."
Dr. Thiene stated his hopes for other countries to follow Italy's lead and make mandatory the screening, which costs about $40 per person.
Thiene said, "This pre-participation screening should also be implemented elsewhere, for instance, in North America where it is not existing yet."