Sudden death in student athletes, doctors take to the sidelines - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Sudden death in student athletes, doctors take to the sidelines

By Chauncy Glover - bio | email | Twitter 

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - High School football is a mainstay in most communities.  But, health officials believe being under the Friday night lights, it can be dangerous.

Dr. Joseph Zanga is the head of Pediatrics at the Columbus Medical Center."We need to know about the child's brain development," says Dr. Joseph Zanga.  He adds the sudden death of young athletes is more often about heart conditions.

"Some of these things are not known before hand and there is no way to know of any of these things before hands," he adds.

Dr. Zanga warns there are a number of cardiac conditions that can be deadly -- especially in a contact sport like football. The condition can cause the heart not to pump effectively or fail more easily.

Family members of Marion County High linebacker, Eric Gutierrez are still waiting for an autopsy, after the Senior athlete collapsed during practice.

Teammates say Gutierrez may have died from heart complications. Though every case is different, doctors say every student athlete should stay on the sidelines, until the proper physical is taken.

"A good sports physical exam require a complete history with the parents participating in giving information to the physician about the things this child's gone through to determine what and should the child play," adds Zanga.

Doctors also, stress in every sport, young athletes should make sure they eat right, and get plenty of rest and most of all make sure their hearts are in the game, literally.

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