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Texas close to requiring EKG screenings for athletes

Texas is on the verge of becoming the first state to require electrocardiogram heart screenings for high school student-athletes.

Texas may soon require EKG screenings for high school athletes.
Texas may soon require EKG screenings for high school athletes.

A bill that would require the exams was approved Monday, 86-57, by the House. It would require that all freshmen and juniors undergo an EKG while being given a physical before they’re allowed to participate.

From USA Today:

One of the primary drivers for the legislation is Scott Stephens, the father of the late Cody Stephens, who died in 2012 in his sleep at home. The elder Stephens initially campaigned for the University Interscholastic League, the governing body for sports in Texas, to require heart screenings, but was met with significant resistance from UIL’s Medical Advisory Committee. In turn, that rejection sent Stephens to the state legislature, where he has met with more success in finding sympathetic ears for the measure.

While there are valid financial concerns about requiring all students to have an EKG, the data that Stephens has provided relative to the number of positive tests in those conducted by the Cody Stephens Go Big or Go Home Foundation indicate that there are a significant number of Texas teenagers who could be at risk of a sudden cardiac incident while competing in varsity sports.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s estimated that 2,000 people under the age of 25 die every year due to sudden cardiac arrest. The most common cause is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is a thickening of the heart muscle. With these heart screenings being implemented, they can catch any heart irregularities so that students may seek proper treatment.

The Texas bill would allow waivers for families with “financial constraints or religious objections to the tests,” according to the Dallas Morning News. The tests would cost about $15 for student-athletes.


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