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American Academy of Pediatrics says all children should be screened for potential heart-related issues

Stethoscope near computer.
Stethoscope near computer. (Negative Space, via Pexels)

The American Academy of Pediatrics now says all children should be screened for potential heart-related issues, even if they’re not an athlete and particularly as they enter middle school.

Every year, about 2,000 individuals younger than age 25 die of sudden cardiac issues in the United States, the AAP said in a news release Monday about its new guidance.

The AAP recommends:

  • Pediatricians and other primary care providers should evaluate if a patient’s clinical history, family history and physical examination suggest a risk for sudden cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death.
  • If there is a concern, an electrocardiogram should be the first test administered, and it should be interpreted by a physician trained to recognize electrical heart disease. The doctor should factor in a patient’s clinical history and consider referral to a specialist.
  • Pediatricians should advocate for emergency action plans and CPR training within the community. The use of automated external defibrillators is effective, as well, in cases of sudden cardiac arrest.
  • The screening itself consists of four questions that ask if a child or teenager has ever fainted or had an unexplained seizure or experienced chest pain or shortness of breath, as well as if family members have a history of cardiac conditions or death before age 50.

Parents who have questions about the new guidance should talk to their child’s pediatrician.