(CNN) — According to the American Heart Association, an estimated 7,000 children go into out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year.
Screening for heart disease in children has so far mainly focused on athletes.
But in a statement published in the medical journal Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics now calls for all children to be screened for conditions that could lead to cardiac arrest or death.
“Children cardiac arrest is fortunately a rare event, but they are not zero incidents at all,” said Dr. Christopher Erickson, the statement’s lead author.
“We say that no subpopulation of children should be selected from the screening because all children may be at potential risk.”
The AAP said those screenings should be part of a child’s regular exam, and called on doctors to delve into personal and family medical history, asking questions such as: Has the child ever had exercise-related chest pain or shortness of breath? had?
“If we identify any of these conditions, especially before they have a sudden cardiac event, treatment can be started or at least monitored,” Erickson said.
The statement also lists terms and conditions that GPs should be aware of that could put young patients at risk as these screenings could save a life.
The AAP said it is important for pediatricians to advocate for emergency action plans and CPR training in communities, and that no screening strategy will detect all conditions associated with SCA.
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