Free heart screenings could save teens lives

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - One in 500 young people has an undetected genetic heart condition that is the leading cause of sudden death. What's worse, there are rarely any outward signs or symptoms. But this weekend, families can get their teen athletes screened for free.

About 20 minutes -- that's all the time it takes to screen someone for a potentially deadly heart problem.

Dr. Silvana Lawrence, medical director of Texas Children's Community Cardiology program said, "Many times this condition maybe completely silent until the first presentation is collapse, typically when performing sports activities."

TCH has teamed up with the Championship Hearts Foundation to offer free heart screenings for teen athletes, searching for abnormalities.

Lawrence said, "This is only a screening event, so we will not be clearing kids for sports participation. This is really trying to pinpoint if there is a specific abnormality that we might be able to help identify in the absence of symptoms. We truly believe that this is something that can save lives."

Patient Carlos David, 15, said, "On Sept. 25 of this year, I got diagnosed with (hypertrophic) cardiomyopathy (HCM) which is my left ventricle, my heart's not squeezing like it's supposed to. So whenever I do physical activities, I get tired real fast."

At first, Carlos' Mom Eda wrote off this fatigue.

She explained, "I thought he was just a typical lazy teenager."

But, she sent the 15-year-old to be screened and sure enough, doctors spotted an abnormality in his heart.

Carlos said, "When the doctor first told me, I was crying. I was shocked like, 'Why did have to happen to me?'"

Eda added, "At first, I thought his life was over. He was upset and I was upset, but they explained to us that what he has is just a condition and he could live a normal life."

Fortunately, it can be managed with medication, but sports are out of the question.

Carlos said, "I can't play any sports any more. If I wanted to after high school, I can't join the Army. But, it's changed my life for the better because it brought me closer to my family and I don't take things for granted anymore."

TCH West Campus Free Heart Screenings for Teens

WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012

8 a.m. - Noon

WHERE: Texas Children's Hospital West Campus

18200 Katy Freeway

Houston, TX 77094

REGISTER: Sign up online at

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