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No easy answers on best heart check-up for young athletes

By The News · 08 of August 2018 21:00:35
Dr. Sanjay Sharma, professor of cardiology at St. George's University of London, speaks during an interview on Wednesday Aug. 8, 2018 about a study he led which found procedures that can help identify athletes who are at risk for heart-problems. He said the British soccer program will start re-checking players' hearts at ages 18, 20 and 25. (AP Photo/Robert Stevens), No available, Dr. Sanjay Sharma, professor of cardiology at St. George's University of London, speaks during an interview on Wednesday Aug. 8, 2018 about a study he led which found procedures that can help identify athletes who are at risk for heart-problems. He said the British soccer program will start re-checking players' hearts at ages 18, 20 and 25. (AP Photo/Robert Stevens)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Every so often a seemingly healthy young athlete suddenly collapses and dies of cardiac arrest. What kind of heart check-up is best at finding players at risk?

Experts debate whether it’s time to add routine EKGs to the pre-sports check-up. Now a study of more than 11,000 top teen soccer players in England highlights the challenge.

The good news: In-depth testing, including that EKG, uncovered a small number of at-risk players, some who had treatable disorders and eventually got back to play.

Yet the tests didn’t detect signs of trouble in a few additional athletes who later died — and came at a significant cost.

The study was published Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.