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Mixed Emotions On Testing Teen Hearts

By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Since the sudden death of Eric Paredes at the age of 15 on the playing field, his mother, a nurse who had no idea that he had a heart defect, started a program in San Diego offering free electrocardiogram screenings for teenagers.

Of the 12,000 kids screened, 121 were found with potentially fatal cardiac defects, according to the Eric Paredes Save a Life Foundation, and young people who have died might have been saved by detection by screening.

Now there are more than 50 screening organizations in 26 states, although standard and pediatric cardiologists haven't all embraced the screenings, believing that high false-positive rates can burden healthy teens with a scare that only expensive additional testing can dispel.

In Israel and Italy young athletes are screened, yet the issue is one of the hottest debates in American cardiology. Read more in The Wall Street Journal about the discussion and other organizations that offer free screenings to young athletes.

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