August 24, 2023
Sports Physicals - Can they prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Discover the importance of comprehensive sports health physicals and the CH Heart Program offered by Connected Health, which includes a thorough examination, EKG, and echocardiogram to identify potential heart issues in athletes and prevent tragedies like sudden cardiac arrest and death.

Every athlete deserves to have a physical that truly prepares them for the sports season, not a quick appointment whose only result is a piece of paper with a signature.

We have all heard stories about young athletes dropping dead on the field. It’s heartbreaking. And it’s not always children. Even marathon runners can suffer from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) and Sudden Cardiac Death (SCA/D). From a young age we encourage our kids to play sports – it’s good for them, right? Keep them moving, get their heart rate up!

Schools try to help make sure kids are safe and healthy enough to play sports. They often require a sports physical. Seems like a great way to prevent major issues! But have you ever had your kid get a sports physical? I have had forms to fill out and to get a doctor to sign – dropped off the forms at the pediatrician’s office, picked them back up and turned them in to the school office. The doctor signs based on the last visit and fills in the required information. Or I have taken my kid to an urgent care center where they do slightly more than that, but not much. I have never left a sports physical thinking…that was so worth it! Very comprehensive! So glad I did that! Nope…not once.

Most of us parents don’t think twice about this.

Same with adults. How many times have you heard the recommendation that before you start a new workout or fitness regimen, you should be cleared by your physician? Can you imagine calling your PCP office saying you want the doc to clear you for exercise? I can already see the eyes rolling on the other end of the phone.

But that’s just the way it is these days….


Maybe it doesn’t have to be. We can ask for better. We can demand better.

Connected Health offers something they called a sports health physical. It is way more than what I described above. My child actually had a physical exam! A medical provider sat down with me and my child and asked questions about family history, predispositions, and current health information.

And then, they did an EKG! I don’t think my child has ever had one of those before. An EKG can identify heart issues that cannot be found on physical exam.

Connected Health went one step further. They told me about their Connected Heart Program. The stories of the athletes that suffer from SCA or SCA/D are indeed heartbreaking. But what’s even sadder is that event could possibly have been prevented. In many of those stories, there was something wrong with their heart, they just didn’t know it. Some are caused by cardiomyopathies, others by coronary artery anomalies.

These issues were there since birth. We just never looked at their heart. Really looked.

As good as an EKG is at detecting issues, an echocardiogram shows even more. An echo is an ultrasound of the heart and can identify those more serious issues. But echocardiograms are not routinely indicated – only if there are signs or symptoms of heart problems. Otherwise, it would not be covered by insurance. The word Sudden in SCA and SCA/D means no one saw it coming. The individual never had any issues – they didn’t know they were ticking time bombs.

Here is the thing. We, as parents, have a choice. We can choose to have someone look at our kids’ hearts. We can choose to have an echocardiogram and hopefully check off the box that my child does not  have a hole in their heart, or a weakness or vulnerability that we didn’t know about.

Yes, the incidence of SCA is low. Overall, it may be around 1 or 2 deaths per 100,000 people. I can’t imagine the pain of losing a child for any reason. But if I have a chance to make sure my child is not the 1 or the 2, I will do whatever possible. One or two... is one and two too many.

Connected Health made sure I understood that this would not be covered by my insurance. I wasn’t used to the concept that I could choose to have a medical test that wasn’t covered and just pay for it myself. To be honest, it’s kind of liberating. I know what’s best for my kid.

I have a very good friend who lost her 20-year-old son when he went on vacation with another family, went diving and died. He had a hole in his heart and the pressure of diving caused his aorta to burst. It’s probably been 20 or more years ago since that happened, but it has been sitting with me ever since. Advances in medicine are best used when they can prevent something bad from happening.

I checked off the box. I had both of my kids do the Connected Health Sports Health Physical and the CH Heart Program. It was so worth it! Very comprehensive. I am so glad I did it!!

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