ECG graph

Heart test needed once, good for entire high school career

Heart test needed once, good for entire high school career

Beginning next school year, Osceola County high-school athletes will require an electrocardiogram (ECG) as part of their annual physicals.

As part of the new county policy, each athlete will need only one such cardio test done during his or her high school career, and the results will be kept on file through their senior years.

As most fall sport practices — football, cross country, golf, swimming and volleyball — begin in July, schools athletic trainers and the district have been working with different programs and hospitals to make the tests available and affordable.

At their annual “Physical Days”, which most schools have scheduled within the next coupe of weeks, the heart tests, which can detect diseases like cardiomyopathy, heart murmurs (basically a valve skipping or adding a beat) or other defects, can be performed at a nominal fee.

The total physical cost will range from $25-35, including both the annual physical and heart test.

For example, Osceola High athletes can get theirs done on campus on April 18 from 6-7:30 for $35, including the ECG.

OHS Head Athletic Trainer Megan McKenna said since every athlete that wants to participate — even just to try out for a sport — needs one starting in 2019-20, she wants to get the word out.

“This first year will be a bit tough getting everyone done just because it's new and we have to get everyone,” she said. “After this year we will just have to get incoming freshman and any new students to the area. But so far every parent I have spoken to is 100 percent supportive of it on board and supportive of it.”

Athlete’s issues with heart problems are rare, but often catastrophic, especially among college athletes. Football players from at least four of Florida’s major problems have died in workouts from undetected or untreated cardiac abnormalities, including at USF where McKenna was a student trainer at the time.

“We lost a football player due to an unknown heart condition, it was one of the worst things I have ever experienced, so I’m 100 percent for this,” she said.

“So whatever steps we can take to prevent that at our level and protect the kids I gladly welcome. It’s really awesome that we will be able to give parents, athletes and ourselves a little more peace of mind with the ECGs.”

Here’s a list of other schools’ confirmed physical days and the costs.

Harmony: April 10, 6:30-8 p.m., $30 including ECG.

St. Cloud: April 15, 6-8 p.m., $10 for physical, $20 for ECG.

Tohopekaliga: April 17 (time not available), $25.

Gateway, April 22 (time not available), $20 for GHS students and incoming freshmen, $30 for non-GHS students.

Poinciana, April 24 (time not available), $25.

Celebration, May 21, 5:30-8 p.m., $25.

Liberty High is still working to put its day together.

Osceola County School District Athletic Director Ryan Adams said he jumped at the chance to provide an added, although unprecedented, layer of safety for the county’s athletes.

“It’s a little out of the ordinary, but you can’t put a price on that piece of mind,” he said. “And if we can help improve or even save one child’s life, then it’s worth it.”