The National Institute of Health – Heart, Lung and Blood Institute – recommends that kids should get their cholesterol checked. This is the same organization that studies and considers sudden cardiac arrest and death of student athletes. I am encouraged by this recommendation because it focuses attention on the hearts of kids. It also provides a perfect illustration of what’s to come.
In 1986, I participated in a cholesterol screening study at the University of Cincinnati. I was 16 at the time and was the only kid getting his cholesterol checked. This is pretty remarkable considering that they knew high cholesterol was hereditary and killed people, that millions of adults had high cholesterol and that those adults had millions of kids with their cholesterol genes. Now, twenty-one years later, kids are going to get checked for a potentially-deadly problem we’ve known about for a long time.
Today, we know that sudden cardiac arrest kills kids. Unlike cholesterol, that takes a while to kill you, conditions of SCA can kill you right away. These conditions are hereditary. However, we are not checking adults or kids for these conditions. We wait until they are symptomatic or an event occurs – that’s pretty logical (sarcasm). I’m guessing that by the time I am 63, they’ll start screening kids for conditions that lead to sudden cardiac arrest. That’ll be great, except for the 50,000 – 100,000 kids that drop dead before then (not to mention all of the adults).