According to results published online March 12 in the American Heart Journal, the screening program found previously undiagnosed cardiac abnormalities in 23 (5.8%) of the 400 healthy subjects (5 to 19 years old, with a mean age of 11.8). ECG identified seven unsuspected cases of potentially serious heart conditions, with echocardiography adding three more.
The authors concluded that it's feasible to screen for conditions associated with sudden cardiac arrest in healthy children by adding ECG to history and physical examination.
"In this nongeneralizable sample, ECG identified more cases compared to history and physical examination alone, with further augmentation from [echocardiography]," the authors wrote. "Improvements in ECG and echocardiographic normative standards, representing age, gender, race, and ethnicity, are needed to increase the efficacy of screening in a young population."