Heart Tests Not The Norm For Student Athletes - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

08/22/05 - Nacogdoches

Heart Tests Not The Norm For Student Athletes

by Donna McCollum

Last week's death of a Nacogdoches Middle School athlete and this weekend's death of a San Francisco 49'er show not all health problems can be detected. But many can be if the right tests are performed. Yet few people have them done.

Student athletes practice hard before and during the season. If only the same preparation is made regarding their heart. Physician Dr. W.E. Furniss said, "These physicals that the UIL require for youngsters to participate won't pick up these electrical abnormalities." The kind that led to the death of Kevin Wallace. Furniss, the child's physician said, "It would take a stress test of the heart which is a significant test and fairly expensive, but no one would have ever withheld it if we had any thought that it was a risk factor."

Some students may not even notice the warning signs or realize their importance. There are also athletes who will say nothing fearing a health issue will jeopardize their future in the sport.

At Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital's Cardiac Rehab Center the staff knows to check out any heart abnormalities. They go to work immediately to make sure it's not a warning for something worse. Nurse Brandy Stamps said, "We always tell them to let us know if they are experiencing shortness of breath or chest pains. We also look for their color change, anything different."

There's not always a warning to a serious health problem. But when there is everyone no matter their age should not ignore them. It could help save a life.

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