School Sports: Athlete Screenings

Health Watch is a Public Service of the University News Bureau and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about preparing for the fall sports season as student-athletes return to school. It seems like every year, we hear about some young athlete suddenly dying during practice or a game, but does every young athlete need to be screened for hidden heart problems?

The sudden death of a seemingly healthy young athlete often leads to calls for all student-athletes to be screened for potential heart problems. Dr. Benjamin Levine, a cardiologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says these tests may not actually help because doctors aren’t sure what to do with the results. There’s no proof that the outcome will be any different because of the tests, and some students who aren’t at risk might be unnecessarily excluded from activities based on the test results. Athletes should talk to their doctors about a family history of heart problems or any symptoms, such as chest pain or shortness of breath.

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August 2011

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