All kids should be screened for heart-related issues, pediatric group says

Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 1:56 PM EDT
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(CNN) – An estimated 7,000 children suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest every year, according to the American Heart Association.

Up until now, screenings for cardiac conditions in children have mostly been directed at athletes.

But in a statement published in the medical journal Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now calling for all children to be screened for conditions that could lead to cardiac arrest or death.

“Cardiac arrest in children is a rare event, fortunately, but it is not zero incidents at all,” said Dr. Christopher Erickson, the lead author of the statement.

“We are saying that no subpopulation of kids should be selected out from screening, because all children could have a potential risk.”

The AAP said those screenings should be part of a child’s regular exam, and called for doctors to delve into personal and family medical history, asking questions like: Has the child ever had exercise-related chest pain or shortness of breath?

“If we identify one of these conditions, particularly before they have any kind of a sudden cardiac event, treatment can be initiated or at least it could be monitored,” Erickson said.

The statement also lists common conditions for primary care physicians to be aware of that could put young patients at risk, saying these screenings could save a life.

The AAP said it’s important for pediatricians to advocate emergency action plans and CPR training in communities, and that no single screening strategy will detect all conditions associated with sudden cardiac arrest.

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