She does that by organizing free public cardiac screenings, six of which have been held in Arizona, where anybody can get checked for heart problems.
Anthony Bates was 20 years old when he died from undiagnosed HCM. A graduate of Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix, he was a member of the Kansas State University football team.
“He had been a member of the team for a year and a half and was going to start next year,” his mom said.
Anthony was in the weight room at school on the morning of his death. On his way home, he passed out behind the wheel. “Paramedics took him to the hospital, but he died,” Sharon Bates said. “That’s the problem with this. The only warning sign Anthony had was sudden death.”
Bates said parents need to know that their children, even non-athletes, should be routinely checked and that they should be aggressive in getting treatment if their child is diagnosed with HCM, a congenital enlargement of the heart.
“Be the advocate of your child’s health care,” she said.
The diseaseHCM is a genetic heart disease that forms in the heart muscle, usually in the teen years of life, according to Sharon’s Web site, anthonybates.org.
Although there is no cure, a person diagnosed with HCMA can live a normal life with proper treatment. Bates said 5,000 to 7,000 kids die of HCM every year. It is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes.
The screeningsBates organized heart screenings in her son’s memory as a way to promote awareness of the disease and encourage parents to watch their teens for warning signs.
She has had support from cardiac physicians, heart screeners and nurses in offering screenings.
Reservations for the screenings aren’t required. They include echocardiograms and EKG tests, if necessary. Participants also must fill out a medical history form.
Five of the more than 170 people screened at an event this fall in Peoria were found to have heart abnormalities, Bates said. Abnormalities are usually found in six to 10 percent of the people who attend the screenings. She tells everyone with a newly detected abnormality to seek medical advice.
“It’s not a disappointment that we didn’t find more people,” she said. “But it’s exciting that we found some and can start leading them toward the path of educating themselves and taking care of their heart.”
Rick Johnson, athletic director for the Peoria Unified School District, said he will encourage coaches to take their athletes to the Peoria presentation Jan. 22. He said too many young adults feel immortal but may have an undetected threat to their life. He also said teachers and staff should take advantage of the screenings.
“This is what makes them aware that they need to seek medical advice and maybe prolong their life,” he said.
What to look forThe American Heart Association recommends that young athletes have heart screenings every two years. Here are some warning signs of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pains
- Heart palpitations (racing heart).
By: Louie Villalobos
The Arizona Republic
Sponsored by Top Floor Tile Cleaning