Study presented at Heart Rhythm 2011 uses an effective and successful screening program to find heart rhythm abnormalities in high school students
SAN FRANCISCO — A new study presented today at Heart Rhythm 2011, the Heart Rhythm Society’s 32nd Annual Scientific Sessions, proves the importance of electrocardiographic (ECG) screenings to identify heart abnormalities in young adults, including both athletes and non-athletes. The study demonstrates the success of a high-volume ECG screening program designed to identify potential life-threatening heart arrhythmias in high school students. Of the more than 50,000 students screened, ECG abnormalities that may be associated with the risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) were identified in over 1,000 students. Download study abstract » (PDF, 9K)
More than 250,000 deaths occur each year as a result of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and, more specifically, SCD occurs in an estimated 2,000 young adults annually in the United States.i While SCA among young adults is a serious concern, the primary challenge with ECG screenings on a large scale is the lack of efficiency and the likelihood for a large number of false positive results. The study, led by Joseph Marek, MD, of the Midwest Heart Foundation, used a standardized and community-based screening program following strict quality controls and performed an average of 1,000 ECG screenings each day.
The screenings were performed during regular school hours in thirty-two Chicago suburban high schools between September 2006 and November 2010. In order to complete the study on a large scale, community volunteers participated in a successful and controlled training program. With the aid of the trained community volunteers, 50,665 students between the ages of 14 to 18, including athletes and non-athletes, were successfully screened.
Results showed that 1,096 (2.16 percent) of the 50,665 screened had ECG abnormities that could be associated with SCD. Specifically, left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) was found in 150 participants, which may be associated with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), the most common cause of SCD. In addition, 145 participants were found with Prolonged QTc that may indicate Long QT syndrome which may also be associated with SCD.
“The screening process is an important step in trying to save lives because it helps us identify the individuals who are at the greatest risk of SCA and, ultimately, it has the potential to prevent incidents of sudden death from occurring,” said Marek. “As proof, some European countries have implemented successful screening programs in high volume that show great success in reducing SCA in young adults.”
In a study conducted in Italy over a 26-year period ii, ECG screenings in young athletes demonstrated an 89 percent reduction in SCD. It was proven that the incidence of sudden cardiac death in young competitive athletes substantially declined in the region of Italy where a nationwide systematic screening was introduced. Studies like this show that it is important to understand the preventative and implementable measures that can be taken to decrease the death rate of young adults from SCA.
“P03-157 – Screening Ecg Findings in 50,665 Young Adults” [May 5, 2011, 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Poster Town, Exhibit Hall]
i Atkins, Dianne et al. Epidemiology and Outcomes From Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest in Children. Circulation. 2009 March 9; 119: 1484-1491.
ii Corrado, Domenico et al. Trends in Sudden Cardiovascular Death in Young Competitive Athletes After Implementation of a Preparticpation Screening Program. JAMA. 2006: 296 (13):1593-1601.
About Heart Rhythm 2011
Heart Rhythm 2011 takes place May 4-7, 2011 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA. The Society’s Annual Scientific Sessions is the most comprehensive educational event on heart rhythm disorders, offering more than 250 educational opportunities in multiple formats. The world’s most renowned scientists and physicians will present a wide range of heart rhythm topics including cardiac resynchronization therapy, catheter ablation, cardiac pacing and heart failure as well as the latest technology, including state-of-the-art pacemakers and defibrillators.
About the Heart Rhythm Society
The Heart Rhythm Society is the international leader in science, education and advocacy for cardiac arrhythmia professionals and patients, and the primary information resource on heart rhythm disorders. Its mission is to improve the care of patients by promoting research, education and optimal health care policies and standards. Incorporated in 1979 and based in Washington, DC, it has a membership of more than 5,300 heart rhythm professionals in more than 70 countries around the world.
Contact: Kennesha Baldwin
Heart Rhythm Society
Cindy Rahman: (703) 283-8499
Heart Rhythm 2011 Press Room: (415) 978-3514 (this phone number active through Saturday, May 7, 1:00 p.m. PT)