AUSTIN (KXAN) — Young, seemingly healthy athletes are dropping dead due to a rare heart condition.
It’s called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) – and typically there are no symptoms, until it’s too late.
“Sports were his life. He played any and all sports he could, from the time he was 4-years-old and up. But baseball was his love,” said Eva Collins.
A love that her 14-year-old son Joseph Collins didn’t know could kill him.
“They were running wind sprints and he collapsed on the field,” remembers Eva. “Due to the lack of knowledge of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, and the risks that there are, the coaches thought he may have just fell and hurt his leg, so they just stood there and didn’t do anything. Until finally when they realized he wasn’t moving, they ran out turned him over realized he wasn’t breathing.”
A coach did CPR and got Joseph back, a second chance most teens with the disease don’t get. In fact, most never get the chance to get diagnosed.
“He received a physical one week prior to him collapsing on the field. And unfortunately they don’t do the ECGs and echos,” says Eva.
She wants all parents to get their teens screened, so they don’t go through what her family went through.
The test costs around $750, but twice a year, the Heart Hospital of Austin does it for free.
“What we’re looking for by ultrasound when we’re screening for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is an abnormal thickening of this heart septum,” says Dr. Vivek Goswami, Clinical Cardiologist at The Heart Hospital of Austin. “It’s the leading causing of sudden death in young, otherwise healthy athletes.”
With HCM, the heart stops pumping adequately, causing the heart to quiver instead of pumping blood to the brain and body. The athlete quickly collapses, loses consciousness and going into cardiac arrest.
Typically three percent of teens tested during the free screenings will have a heart condition or require a follow-up.
“Don’t hesitate to bring your child. To make sure your child is okay, so you don’t lose him or her on the field,” said Eva.
Joseph is now 24-years-old and a recent graduate from the University of Texas.
The Heart Hospital of Austin is offering free screenings on Saturday, but spots have already filled up.
Parents can register for August screenings in about two weeks.