Saving Kids' Lives With An ECG - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Saving Kids' Lives With An ECG

Posted: Updated:

PHILADELPHIA (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Thousands of seemingly healthy American kids and teens die every year from sudden cardiac arrest. Determining if your child is at risk can be difficult, but now a group of researchers believe a routine test that checks for problems in adult hearts could be used to save kids' lives.

Eleven-year old Lena Felix is in constant motion. It's hard to imagine that for half her life, she lived with a potentially deadly heart defect-called atrial septal defect or ASD.

"(It's) basically a hole in your heart. A large hole," Michelle Borelli, Lena's mother told Ivanhoe.

Lena never showed any symptoms of heart trouble. Doctors discovered the defect by chance. Michelle Borelli had heard about a children's heart health study, and enrolled her kids on a whim. Pediatric cardiologist Dr. Victoria Vetter is studying how measuring the electrical activity of the heart with an ECG could save kid's lives.

"These children may have the cardiac arrest as their very first symptom. So by identifying them early and providing treatment and care, we can often prevent the cardiac arrest from occurring," Victoria Vetter, M.D., from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia told Ivanhoe.

In the heart health screening study of 2,500 school-aged students, researchers found undetected abnormalities in 5 percent of kids. Lena was among the one percent who had a life-threatening condition.

But the ECG isn't foolproof. Critics said false positives could lead to more expensive tests-and high anxiety for parents. Still Lena's mother believes it's worth it. Lena had surgery to fix her heart defect-before it became life-threatening.

"My daughter is proof that this is something that should be mandated," Borelli concluded.

Dr. Vetter said research shows the ECG is three times as effective in picking up abnormalities as a personal history and traditional physical exam. She says improvements in ECG standards will lower false positives, reducing the number of tests needed. Vetter says she would eventually like to see ECG widely available at pediatrician's offices.

RESEARCH SUMMARY

BACKGROUND: Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. If this happens, blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs. SCA usually causes death if it's not treated within minutes. Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a primary cause of death in adults (there are about 300,000 sudden cardiac deaths each year in the United States alone), it's quite rare in the young people but it can happen. It's estimated that 6-8,000 deaths result from SCA in the young on an annual basis. (SOURCE: National Heart and Lung Blood Institute)

CAUSES AND SIGNS: The causes of SCA and death in young people vary. However, what all SCA episodes have in common is the final common pathway that leads to death. For a variety of reasons, something causes the heart to degenerate into a chaotic and abnormal electrical rhythm and the heart beats out of control. This abnormal heart rhythm is known as ventricular fibrillation. Many times death occur with no advance warning. However, there are a couple of signs that can indicate trouble. The first is sudden and unexplained fainting that occurs during physical exertion. This is known as syncope. In addition to syncope, seizures can also occur. The other major warning sign is a family history of unexplained deaths before the age of 50. (SOURCE: Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation)

NEW GENERATION OF TESTS: A pilot study in healthy children and adolescents shows that it is feasible to screen for undiagnosed heart conditions that increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Adding a 10-minute electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) to a history and physical examination identified unsuspected cases of potentially serious heart conditions.

The study team identified previously undiagnosed cardiac abnormalities in 23 subjects, and hypertension in an additional 20. Ten of the 400 subjects (about 2.5 percent) had potentially serious cardiac conditions. Of those 10 subjects, only one had experienced symptoms, and those had previously been dismissed. None of the 10 subjects had a family history of SCA

The study showed using ECG, outperformed the history and physical examination and found previously unidentified potentially serious abnormalities that would not have been identified by history and physical examination alone. (SOURCE: The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia)

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Joey McCool/Media Relations
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
(267) 426-6070
mccool@email.chop.edu

  • Medical News HeadlinesMedical News HeadlinesMore>>

  • Hope For Lanie: Curing SMA

    Hope For Lanie: Curing SMA

    Thursday, April 17 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-17 21:15:09 GMT
    SMA attacks the body's motor neurons and causes paralysis. There is no cure, but for the first time doctors are studying an experimental therapy that targets more than just symptoms.more>>
    SMA attacks the body's motor neurons and causes paralysis. There is no cure for SMA but for the first time doctors are studying an experimental therapy that targets more than just symptoms, it targets mutated SMN genes, which are responsible for SMA.more>>
  • Washing Lungs & Breathing Better

    Washing Lungs & Breathing Better

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-16 21:15:09 GMT
    Imagine not being able to breathe without struggling: every breath you take is work; every breath you take could be your last. That was the case for one man who became dependent on an oxygen tank to stay alive.more>>
    Imagine not being able to breathe without struggling: every breath you take is work; every breath you take could be your last. That was the case for one man who became dependent on an oxygen tank to stay alive.more>>
  • Ocular Melanoma: Saving Lives, Saving Eyes

    Ocular Melanoma: Saving Lives, Saving Eyes

    Friday, April 11 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-11 21:15:07 GMT
    Ocular melanoma, also called uveal melanoma, is a rare type of melanoma that targets the eye. It can be a deadly if it isn't spotted early enough. Now, there's a way to treat patients that's saving lives and saving eyes.more>>
    Ocular melanoma, also called uveal melanoma, is a type of melanoma that targets the eye. It affects about 2,000 people a year in the United States. Although rare – it can be a deadly if it isn't spotted early enough. Now, there's a way to treat patients that's saving lives and saving eyes.more>>
  • Memory Palace: Coping With Chemo Brain

    Memory Palace: Coping With Chemo Brain

    Thursday, April 10 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-10 21:15:09 GMT
    More than 13 million Americans are living with some form of cancer. Harsh treatments like chemo and radiation save lives, but they will also change lives. Now, many cancer survivors are learning how to cope with chemo brain.more>>
    More than 13 million Americans are living with some form of cancer. Harsh treatments like chemo and radiation save lives, but they will also change lives. Now, many cancer survivors are learning how to cope with chemo brain.more>>
  • Pedaling For A Cure

    Pedaling For A Cure

    Wednesday, April 9 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-09 21:15:09 GMT
    Five years ago, Leslie Trudeau's world came crashing down. At just 22 years old, her son Taylor lost his battle with leukemia. That's why Trudeau is pedaling for a cure.more>>
    Five years ago, Leslie Trudeau's world came crashing down. At just 22 years old, her son Taylor lost his battle with leukemia. That's why Trudeau is pedaling for a cure.more>>
  • Bringing Hearts Back To Life: New Improved Defibrillator

    Bringing Hearts Back To Life: New Improved Defibrillator

    Tuesday, April 8 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-08 21:15:13 GMT
    CPR and a portable defibrillator helped keep Eric Robinson alive after he went into cardiac arrest. And now a newly FDA approved Biotronik implantable cardiac defibrillator, or ICD, constantly monitors his heart.more>>
    A year ago, while jamming with his son's band, Eric Robinson went into cardiac arrest. CPR and a portable defibrillator helped keep Robinson alive. And now a newly FDA approved Biotronik implantable cardiac defibrillator, or ICD, constantly monitors his heart.more>>
  • Helping High Risk Hearts

    Helping High Risk Hearts

    Monday, April 7 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-07 21:15:09 GMT
    Ironing is not exactly Barbara Roy's favorite activity, but it's something she's glad she can do again. Her doctor diagnosed her with severe aortic stenosis.more>>
    Ironing is not exactly Barbara Roy's favorite activity, but it's something she's glad she can do again. Her doctor diagnosed her with severe aortic stenosis.more>>
  • Hernias In Newborns: Lincoln's Story

    Hernias In Newborns: Lincoln's Story

    Friday, April 4 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-04 21:15:07 GMT
    Congenital diaphragmatic hernias occur in about one in every 2,000 births. They can be deadly, but now doctors are using a more aggressive treatment approach.more>>
    Congenital diaphragmatic hernias occur in about one in every 2,000 births. They can be deadly, but now doctors are using a more aggressive treatment approach.more>>
  • Predicting Bad Hearts

    Predicting Bad Hearts

    Thursday, April 3 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-03 21:15:09 GMT
    Every year, more than 700,000 Americans have a heart attack. Now, researchers at Baylor Research Institute at Dallas have uncovered a biomarker that may help them spot the disease sooner.more>>
    Every year, more than 700,000 Americans have a heart attack. And 600,000 die of heart disease. Now, researchers at Baylor Research Institute at Dallas have uncovered a biomarker that may help them spot the disease sooner; and they did it by pure accident.more>>
  • Giving Shannon A Voice Of Her Own

    Giving Shannon A Voice Of Her Own

    Wednesday, April 2 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-02 21:15:05 GMT
    More than half a million children under age 15 has a severe communication disorder impairing their ability to speak or communicate with others. Now, advances in technology are giving them a voice—some for the first time.more>>
    More than half a million children under age 15 has a severe communication disorder impairing their ability to speak or communicate with others. Now, advances in technology are giving them a voice—some for the first time.more>>
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.