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Routine Youth Heart Screenings Debated

January 5, 2012, 5:30 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Routine Youth Heart Screenings Debated
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Heart screenings are becoming more popular for South Dakota athletes. Around 70 schools set up heart screenings in the state through Screening America last year.

But the debate over whether high school and college athletes should be routinely screened continues. One Parkston teenager says they're definitely worth it; Sam Herrold says it saved her life. Doctors diagnosed Herrold with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes.

Yet, routine ECG screening for young athletes is currently not recommended by the American Heart Association nor mandated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The Avera St. Benedict Health Center in Parkston partnered with the school to offer the screening.

The CEO of the Center thinks it's a great option, but should not be required as a part of physicals for student athletes.

"At this point in time I don't think it would be appropriate because you have some fairly significant costs for some of the families, and it might prohibit some athletes to not be able to participate. I think if they have any family history, it would be very appropriate. But to make it a routine thing, it would be too expensive at this point in time because the percentage of positive findings are very small but very important when you do find them," Avera St. Benedict Health Center President & CEO Gale Walker said.

For a list of upcoming heart screenings, visit the Screening America website.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
A misspelling was corrected in this story.

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