Brevard County School Board Passes Policy Requiring Heart-Screenings for Student-Athletes

By  //  October 3, 2019

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BPS has partnered with 'Who We Play For'

The School Board of Brevard County has passed a policy that makes electrocardiogram (ECG) tests mandatory for all student-athletes. Electrocardiograms help identify athletes who may be at risk for sudden death from loss of heart function. An ECG may also assist with diagnosing several different heart conditions that put athletes at risk. (BPS image)

BREVARD COUNTY • VIERA, FLORIDA – The School Board of Brevard County has passed a policy that makes electrocardiogram (ECG) tests mandatory for all student-athletes.

Electrocardiograms help identify athletes who may be at risk for sudden death from loss of heart function. An ECG may also assist with diagnosing several different heart conditions that put athletes at risk.

BPS announced in June that the school board expected to pass the policy and urged athletes to begin getting tested before fall sports.

To make testing accessible to more students, BPS has partnered with Who We Play For (WWPF), a nonprofit organization committed to protecting student-athletes through heart screenings.

It also published lists of doctors and urgent-care centers that provide ECG testing.

Brevard County Schools Now Require Heart Screening For All Student-Athletes To Prevent Sudden Cardiac ArrestRelated Story:
Brevard County Schools Now Require Heart Screening For All Student-Athletes To Prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Since the announcement, nearly 4,000 student-athletes have been screened with 114 being flagged as “abnormal” and 15 being considered “high risk.” 

To date, families have revealed that six potentially life-saving surgeries were performed on student-athletes here in Brevard County as a result of these screenings. 

ECG Testing is now required for all sports. BPS has added an ECG-related form to all 2019-2020 athletic packets.

A message including the updated form will be sent to all BPS families in the coming week. All student-athletes in grades 7-12, who plan on participating in sports, will need a completed ECG form.

In 2007, Rafe Maccarone, a Cocoa Beach High School soccer player, died from heart complications after a training session. He was later found to have undiagnosed hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

The ECG form requires students and their parents to take one of three options:

  • Give WWPF consent to administer an ECG at one of the numerous school-based screening events;
  • Record that testing has been done by a private health provider;
  • Acknowledge the risks from sudden cardiac arrest and not being tested, but opt out of testing for personal reasons. BPS coaches and athletic officials are directed to not encourage this option for the sake of convenience.

Students will be able to have the ECG done at the dates and times listed at a cost of $20.

Students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch at schools are eligible for free screenings through Who We Play For.

For fall sports, the cost did not appear to be a hurdle for student-athletes.

At Brevard’s three high schools with the highest rates of students from low-income homes – Cocoa High, Heritage High and Palm Bay Magnet High – about four out of five student-athletes underwent ECG tests before fall sports.

The same portion of student-athletes received tests at schools such as Viera High, Satellite High and Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High.

If a students’ test results – sent directly to parents, not BPS – indicates they need “follow-up” or have a “high risk” designation, they will not be allowed to participate in athletics until they obtain medical releases indicating that they met with a doctor and have been cleared participate in athletics.

If parents/guardians have a previously completed ECG or would like their child to have an ECG completed by their personal physician, documentation should be included as part of the required physical forms.

CLICK HERE for a listing of upcoming dates and locations for ECG screenings.

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