DES MOINES, Iowa — After Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field during Monday night’s Football game from a sudden cardiac arrest, parents are wondering if there is something they can do to make sure their own children are healthy.
“If a significant murmur, which is the sound that we hear through the stethoscope, is heard, that should then trigger further heart evaluation,” said Dr. Denise Sorrentino, an electrophysiologist and cardiologist at MercyOne Iowa Heart center. “So the physical exam is number one.”
Dr. Sorrentino said making sure your child gets yearly physicals is a good way to keep their heart health monitored. She also wants people to understand their family history when it comes to pre-existing conditions. She added that the expansion of electrocardiogram or EKG tests would be extremely beneficial in high school and collegiate levels.
“Quite amazingly most school districts and even colleges do not do scanning or routine EKGs,” said Dr. Sorrentino. “The yield is really very low because the incidence of this happening is like one in 40,000 athletes.”
Expanding EKGs would allow athletes at all levels to know their heart health and seek further evaluation if the test calls for it.
An endurance trainer in Des Moines requires all athletes that come in to train to take an EKG and a physical.
“Yes, we have the original EKG, medical professional session with them, but then from there we’re still tracking our athletes on a daily session from heart rate monitors and some other equipment that they can use that is very accurate,” said Matt Zepeda, the owner and coach at Zoom Performance.
Zepeda deals with endurance athletes taking part in Ironmans, triathlons, ultra-marathons, etc. He said that the technological advancements have made it safer for athletes than it has in the past.
“The technology really changed the game over the last 17 years, so it’s allowed us to do a better job of what we’ve always been concerned about,” said Zepeda.
Both Zepeda and Sorrentino said being able to monitor your own heart health by going to the doctor is crucial. And Sorrentino added that people should learn how to perform CPR and operate an AED if they do not know how to do so.