LISD Board to consider heart screening to protect student-athletes

Reported by: Henry Ramos
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Updated: 11/15/2012 5:57 am

LISD trustees are scheduled to decide Thursday whether to foot the bill for cardiac screenings for every student-athlete in order to curb the risk of heart-related emergencies.

Sports Medicine Director Ronnie Kirk said, "Anything we can do to prevent something from happening the better off we are going to be."

Kirk wants the district to invest in the ECG program.

"We don't want anything to be fatal," Kirk said. "You know like any sudden cardiac deaths, or anything like that."

Two years ago in Orange, Texas, after star quarterback Reggie Garrett threw a touchdown pass, he went to the sideline and collapsed.

"I just saw him down. The first thing I could do was get down their with him. It was unbelievable," Jo Ann Parkinson, Garrett's mother said. "I couldn't have asked for a better child."

Garrett died at a hospital about an hour after his collapse. The reason for the sudden collapse an undetectable heart disease, which caused a sudden cardiac death.

Studies by the American Heart Association indicate one in 500 student-athletes may be at risk for a sudden cardiac death.

"It is usually not done in a physical," Kirk said. "They check it, but they usually don't do an EKG,or any type of thing like that on young athletes."

Last year, LISD held a voluntary trial run of ECG's only charging parents $20. Of the 1,500 student-athletes district-wide, only 200 took part. Two of those 200 were found to have cardiac abnormalities.

Advocates like Kirk hope LISD will soon test all 1,500 student-athletes.

The Board of Trustees will make the ultimate call at its meeting on Thursday. If the board approves the testing, students can expect ECG screenings to begin in the Spring. The tests will be administered by school nurses and student trainers.

The results will then be sent to doctors at Cypress ECG Project, which is a non-profit organization focused on cardiac screening.

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