Thursday, March 04, 2010
Before kids at most high schools are cleared to play team sports, they have to undergo physical checkups. Usually they aren't the most rigorous exams and rarely do they include an EKG.
But should they?
Researchers at Stanford say they should. A new study argues that the cardiac test is “reasonable in cost and effective at saving lives."
Why aren't EKGs part of the routine workup, like sticking out your tongue? Money, of course. If the heart tests were mandatory, schools would have to get access to test equipment and have a doctor or technician with proper training to interpret the EKGs - at a cost per athlete of about $88.
That's a lot of money for many high schools. And there are other issues too which are raised in this very good article in the Contra Costa Times.
Fine. But there's little (virtually no) debate whether requiring high school athletes to have EKGs would save lives. In Italy, the tests have been required for school athletes since 1982. Sudden-cardiac deaths are down 90 per cent.
There's no reason to waste money on a test of marginal benefit. But we're talking about denying 15-year-olds a simple procedure that we know could save lives. Raise my income tax a $1 a year. Or two. That's all it would take, right?