2016-02-01 / Fitness

RWJ to host free heart, concussion screenings Feb. 6

Free cardiac and concussion screenings for young athletes will be held on Feb. 6, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, 110 Rehill Ave. in Somerville.

The cardiac screening is targeted for athletes ages 14-18. The screening will look for major abnormalities known to cause sudden cardiac death, which affects an average of 1 in 100,000 student athletes nationwide each year. Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset cardiologists, nurses and technicians will conduct the evaluation, which includes a cardiovascular history and physical exam; blood pressure screening; body metrics; an electrocardiogram; and an echocardiogram, if indicated. Results will be given to students to share with their personal physicians.

“Young athletes have an increased risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) compared to their non-athlete peers. The combination of physical exercise and an underlying heart disorder in an athlete can trigger cardiac arrest,” said Steven Georgeson, M.D., a cardiologist at RWJ Somerset.

Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is caused by ventricular fibrillation (an irregular heart rhythm from the lower chambers of the heart) and is almost always fatal. Sudden cardiac death does occur in athletes. An ImPACT baseline concussion test will also be offered for ages 11-18. This test is a noninvasive computerized exam that provides useful information for evaluation and rehabilitation of the young athlete in the event of a future concussion.

The number of concussions in high school sports has doubled in the past five years. Students in sports such as football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, wrestling, baseball and softball were most at risk, studies show.

“If a young athlete has suffered a head injury, the baseline results from the ImPACT screening test can help to evaluate the severity of the injury as well as help to determine what type of treatment is required if needed so athletes can return safely to play,” said Steve Weintraub, D.O., of RWJ Physician Enterprise’s Sports Medicine New Jersey.

The cardiology department at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset has been screening local high school athletes since 2009 and has screened more than 800 students. A parent or guardian must accompany each student. Appointments are required. To register or for more information, call 908-685-2414 or go to www.rwjuh.edu/athletescreening.

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