JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Taking your child to get an EKG is an unexpected new item on the back-to-school checklist pediatricians recommend parents mark off immediately.
Dr. Sunita Ferns, a pediatric cardiac electrophysiologist at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, confirms EKG screenings completed at early ages can be lifesaving.
“It’s a simple and effective screening tool because in the right hand if an EKG is read by the right person namely a pediatric cardiologist who is proficient in reading EKGs it can screen out some of the life-threatening conditions that someone may not know about in pediatric patient until they have a cardiac arrest,” Ferns said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics urges all children to be screened for conditions that can lead to cardiac arrest or death, regardless of athletic status.
“Every year, about 2,000 individuals younger than age 25 die of sudden cardiac issues in the United States,” according to the AAP.
According to Ferns, the coronavirus pandemic may be a contributing factor to an uptick in pediatric patients with heart issues.
“It is possible that with COVID-19 within the last 18 months We have seen so many patients with rhythm problems and cardiac involvement after Covid that there’s been a sudden push and it’s just taking it over the brink where it’s now recommendation,” Ferns said.
Florida lawmakers have considered a plan earlier this year, that would have required EKGs for student-athletes. It was removed from a bill that now requires some students to learn CPR. The EKG requirement will get another look this fall in Tallahassee.
Cost is a concern for parents. An EKG can run hundreds of dollars depending on insurance.
Some Florida school districts that already require these screenings have offered them for as little as $20.