WTVM 9/16/13 Editorial: Detecting heart disease in teens

(WTVM) - A friendly pick-up game of basketball was all one local teenager wanted - then suddenly he was dead.

Antwon Whitehead, 15, was known in the community as an exceptional student, a great young man, and a terrific athlete.

Antwon's life was cut short by a condition he never knew he had. The coroner's office says Antwon collapsed and died due to an extremely large heart.

His family, friends, and coaches are left to cherish his memory.

We don't know the exact number of teens across America who died like Antwon from hidden heart defects, but we do know that saving those lives would be priceless.

Right now- most teens undergo physicals before participating in sports, but most exams do not include EKGs or electrocardiograms. These tests could detect dangerous heart rhythms or enlarged hearts like Antwon had.

There are some medical experts who counsel against EKGs in routine pre-season physicals.

Early testing can misidentify healthy hearts as damaged, but other doctors say the EKG test – perfect or not – is better than nothing because it might save lives.

Our area schools need to consider making sure every student athlete gets an EKG.

General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to WTVM Editorial Committee or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee
1909 Wynnton Road
Columbus, GA 31906

Copyright 2013 WTVM. All rights reserved.