Your Child and EKG’s

child EKGAs the new school year approaches and we all start to get back into our rituals of school and homework,there is one more part of the ritual that will return and that is sports. The sports season and the school year go hand in hand for many student athletes and if you have been keeping up with the national news lately, a growing number of children have had emergencies while participating in sports activities due to heart arrhythmias. While heart arrhythmias in children are more rare than adults, they still exist and the activity level and stress on the heart from sports can make an already known congenital condition worse or bring an unknown condition to light. Many sports teams or clubs require a routine physical before participating and that is great but not many require an Electrocardiogram or “ EKG “ to be apart of that physical. Reading stories from across the country and the world for that matter about children who have been injured or even died from causes related to arrhythmias has proven that the need for every child to have an EKG done annually is necessary and even more so in the case of children involved in sports.

Having an EKG done is quick and painless and can bring peace of mind to parents and children and may also give some answers as to why some children complain of or feel different things and could not explain why. I can personally tell you we run many EKG’s on people that call 911 for various reasons and they all feel a little better with a clean EKG.

The causes of these heart arrhythmias in children vary.. Some children have a congenital condition that they are born with and was detected early and is under control by a doctor. Some normally healthy children suddenly develop them for unknown reasons and find out during an EKG during a physical or during a trip to the emergency room from an unknown problem. There are reports linking the rising use of energy drinks by children and teens to the development of these arrhythmias and the sudden emergencies or even deaths that have occurred while using them. The American Hear Association has come out strongly against the use of energy drinks due to the caffeine involved and the changes to your body’s natural heart rhythm and blood pressure they cause. Mix that with the stress of sports and you have a potentially deadly combination. Look around a high school or any setting with sports and you will see no shortage of energy drinks.

The bottom line is that like most things, prevention is key. Having an EKG done by your child’s doctor is easy and should be done regardless of playing sports or not. You never know what you may find and you may save your child’s life in the process. And while you’re at it, get one done for you too.

Thank you and have a great and safe school year!

Photo credit: Kelly Sue DeConnick; CC license

About the Author

Greg Atwood is a Firefighter /Paramedic in Coral Gables Florida and works for the Coral Gables Fire Rescue. He is an American Heart Association certified instructor in BLS ( Basic Life Support ), ACLS ( Advanced Cardiopulmonary Life Support ), and PALS ( Pediatric Advanced Life Support ). Greg currently lives in Miami Florida with his beautiful wife Alexa and their 2 sons, Connor and Jake. Greg is a former member of the PedSafe Expert team


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