Should an EKG be a required test for young athletes?

Sudden cardiac death is one of the leading causes of death in children throughout the country, but most medical experts believe screening electrocardiograms (EKG) would help identify more young athletes who are at high risk for that condition.

Right now, junior high and high school athletes are required to get a health screening every two years which includes a check of their medical history and a physical which checks their blood pressure.

Physicians also check the heart through a stethoscope, but many experts, like Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Professor of Pediatric Cardiologist, Dr. Gene Luckstead, believe an EKG should be an added requirement.

"EKG are a well-known test, they've been around for a long time and if we can get the cost factors down, so we can use it on a widespread basis in the junior high and high school athletes particularly that certainly will get extended into the college level."

Some say cost factors into why an EKG isn't a requirement; Dr. Luckstead says an $80 test shouldn't cost a child their life.

"I've been active in sports, so I see both sides of the equation and obviously I've seen families where they've had a sudden loss of a child or a young athlete."

Not every state has the same requirements, athletes that could or do have a condition sometimes slip through the cracks.

"We don't have a common mechanism, we have 50 states and of those 50 state, everybody has their own guidelines and rules and sometimes they do it very well and sometimes they do it very poorly and the athletes I think in those times suffer if we can't recognize an athlete that's high risk."

Dr. Luckstead also said testing should be extended to non-athletes as well because regardless if they play sports, kids are still going to be running around.