Importance of Youth Heart Screenings

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States today. This statistic does not only come from people older than forty, in a certain demographic or who live an unhealthy lifestyle. Cardiac problems can happen to anyone and can impact lives at a much earlier age than what is commonly thought.

There is a common misconception of a connection between aging and cardiac problems. Although cardiac problems become more common as people age, they occur more commonly than people think in youth. In 2013, heart disease was the fifth leading cause of death among youth ages 15-24 years in the United States.

What can be done to help reduce this statistic among young people? The number one way to reduce risk of heart disease is to get a heart screening done which may be able to detect preexisting conditions. These screenings involve a questionnaire, a blood pressure measurement and an electrocardiogram (ECG). It is also common for an echocardiogram, ultrasound of the heart, to be used in some cases. With use of these tools, both inherited and acquired forms of heart disease can be discovered with enough time for action to be taken.

Young athletes are the most at risk young demographic for heart disease. Congenital heart disease is the most common form of heart disease for athletes under the age of 35. It affects 1 in 500 people and most generally can lead to problems which occur during or immediately after exercise. The Nick of Time Foundation is a foundation with the goal of raising awareness for undetected heart conditions, especially young athletes. You can learn more about the Nick of Time Foundation on their website. By placing an emphasis on youth heart screening, thousands of lives could be saved every year in the United States alone. It is important for people to learn heart diseases impact people of all ages and the importance of looking for them at a young age is just as important as any.

-Davis Hoover, Alexander’s Hope Intern


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