Keller ISD to monitor student-athletes' heart health

New clinical trial on sudden cardiac death

KELLER -- It can happen suddenly and without warning.

According to the American Heart Association, 66 student athletes ages 13-25 die from cardiac arrest each year.

"Our biggest fear is something like that," said Keller High School Varsity Football Coach Carl Stralow.

On Monday, News 8 told you about a close call in Carrollton. Two weeks ago, 13-year-old Amanda Marquez collapsed during a volleyball tryout at Creek Valley Middle School.

Thanks to a defibrillator and quick action by school administrators, the teen was saved. But in Amanda's case, and in many cases across the country, the cause of heart failure can go unexplained.

Bob Dejonge with Keller ISD hopes to change that.

"He really doesn't know what he will find," Dejonge said, “and neither do we."

One of the top cardiologists in the area approached the school district with a new clinical trial.

Using electrocardiograms, he hopes to flag student athletes at risk for cardiac arrest.

"Any opinion that any of us have today is probably irresponsible, because we simply do not know the answer," Dejonge said.

The study comes at no cost to parents and students have a choice whether or not they want to participate.

But if they do, they'll be tracked for a four-year period.

The goal is to eventually determine if the electrocardiograms are a useful tool for school districts, and if mandatory testing is necessary.

"Student safety is paramount," Stralow said. "If we can be a part of this study, we will do anything we can."

The study will start at the end of September, and it will also include members of the school's bands.

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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