New Jersey First State To Require Cardiac Screenings For All Kids Under 19

New Jersey will soon be the first state in the nation to require health professionals to look for heart disease in young people during physical exams.
 
As CBS2’s Christine Sloan reported, right now, only student athletes are required to undergo cardiac screenings before playing organized sports. But concerns about sudden cardiac issues have broadened the requirement.
 
A genetic heart disorder took the lives of five members of Lisa Salberg’s family. Her sister, Lori, died at the young age of 36, and her father also died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – or HCM.
 
And at the age of 12, Salberg was diagnosed with the disorder herself. She is the founder and chief executive officer of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association, based in Denville.
 
HCM involves a thickening of the heart, and doctors said it is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in children.
 
Salberg’s 19-year-old daughter, Becca, has the disorder too.
 
“My daughter is now 19. My daughter had an implantable defibrillator put in at the age of 10. But she’s protected,” Salberg said. “And we want be able to give others the opportunity to identify, treat and protect their children.”
 
Salberg said the new cardiac screening law in New Jersey will save lives by making cardiac screening mandatory during wellness checks for kids under 19.
 
The screening involves 14 simple questions.
 
Among them are, “Does your child have chest pains?” and “Has your child had fainting spells without a good explanation?” said Dr. Jay Corwin.
 
Corwin, a heart specialist, said HCM affects 1 percent of the population – and it’s not just athletes.
 
“It could be any kid who’s riding his bicycle down the street, or shooting baskets with his buddies on his driveway,” Corwin said.
 
Some worry it will lead to costly tests, but Corwin said it would not.
 
“It’s not even special exams. It’s stuff that you can do just with a stethoscope in a routine physical examination, so it doesn’t involve a $500 test,” he said.
 
The law goes into effect in four months. It also requires all heath care professionals to take a training module on the signs of heart disease in children.
 
Most health plans have wellness checks every year for kids, and many schools require physical exams – at least when students enter the district. There is no extra cause for the test.
 
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