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Preventive screening for sudden cardiac death in young athletes debated
Date:11/26/2012

addressed in this study.

Researchers in the current study established a cost-projection model based on the Italian study to estimate the number of athletes who would need to undergo screening if it were required in the U.S., compute the costs and determine the number of lives that could be saved. The number of screening-eligible athletes was estimated from data provided by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the National Federation of State High School Associations and diagnostic test costs were determined from Medicare reimbursement rates.

Based on this data, researchers determined that 8.5 million athletes would undergo annual ECG screening over 20 years, with 2 percent ultimately disqualified as a result of follow up screenings each year. That equates to 170 million screening tests and 3.4 million disqualifications over two decades.

The number of athletes disqualified for heart conditions would cause the sudden cardiac death rate to decrease from 4 to 0.43 per 100,000, but the costs would be in the billions. Researchers estimate that 20 years of testing would cost between $51 billion and $69 billion and save about 4,813 lives, which averages to between $10.6 million and $14.4 million per life saved.

Antonio Pelliccia, MD, of the Institute of Sport Medicine and Science in Rome, disagrees with the conclusions of the study. He argues the study overestimates costs because the screenings are part of a preventative program that targets young people who are for the most part healthy, is conducted outside of hospitals and is performed by team physicians, not cardiologists. Screenings would be packaged as a unique medical procedure instead of priced as individual diagnostic tests.

He acknowledges that reimbursement of pre-participation screenings as a preventative medicine program does not currently exist in the Medicare system and this "represents a major obstacle" in implementing ECG-based pre-participation sc
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Contact: Nicole Napoli
nnapoli@acc.org
202-375-6523
American College of Cardiology
Source:Eurekalert

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