A letter from Dr. Charles Kim
January 18, 2016
Dear students, volunteers and community members,
It was a chilly but fulfilling day in Apple Valley for the third Play for Patrick heart screen on Saturday. We loved seeing so many returning volunteer faces and meeting so many new volunteers! We couldn't do this without your support.
Thankfully, no major abnormalities were found at Saturday's screening. We identified a number of kids with elevated blood pressures that will follow up with their primary doctors. It's important to raise awareness of the potential condition for both the kids and their parents. Healthy lifestyles and pattern of good diet and nutrition starts early. For some kids that are predisposed to medical conditions it's even more important. We encourage avoiding energy drinks and heavy amounts of caffeine, listening to their bodies when they are over-tired or over-stressed and developing healthy coping mechanisms instead of stimulant "temporary fixes" that will catch up to them in the future.
We did find a couple of minor structural and electrical heart variants that generally don't cause problems. We discussed warning signs and symptoms of these with the kids and their families in case they progress. Knowing that we were able to add a level of safety for the 250+ kids screened was a great warm fuzzy for me on a cold day.
I received a couple of good questions regarding when the screening should be repeated. It's unclear at this time because mass screening programs are so new. Some abnormalities will never develop if they are not present at one screening. Others are really subtle and become more apparent as time goes on. Technical limitations with screening equipment can make it hard to identify certain types of abnormalities and with additional rounds of screening it can increase the likelihood of identifying something abnormal. We just don't have great data on what the right answer is, but I think a 3-5 year repeat screen is a reasonable time frame.
Again, thank you to all the volunteers and parents who came out on Saturday. Being able to spend the time with great people really made it that much better. Thanks so much for spending your cold winter day with us! We look forward to seeing you again!
Charles Kim, MD & the Play for Patrick Team