Heart exams coming for Texas High School Athletes

Heart exams coming for Texas High School Athletes
(Source: KTRE Sports)

LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - A new law signed by the governor requires that a heart exam now be offered for all student-athletes participating in high school extracurricular activities.

House Bill 76 has taken on the name “Cody’s Law,” is dedicated to the late Cody Stephens, who died from an undiagnosed heart issue while training for college football in 2012.

Students participating in UIL events are already tested their freshman year and their junior year. The heart exams would be added to the other tests. Parents are allowed to opt out. Officials are hoping that these test could catch an un-diagnosed issue and prevent a student’s death.

“There is a genetic component when we do the ultrasound,” Lufkin cardiologist Vivek Mangla said. “The thickness of the heart muscle is important. For some people it is unnecessarily, extra thick and those are the people, student-athletes who can fall dead on the field, especially when they have over exerted themselves.”

The law does not go into effect until Sept. 1. Lufkin Athletic Director did not let that stop the district from going ahead and setting up heart exams to take place with the regular physicals freshman and juniors were already set to get.

“We knew this could happen so we wanted to be ahead of it,” Quick said. “We wanted to be safe. I think we are smarter and the technology is better and we understand the effects. We cured it with an ammonia cap. Now there is more to it then just that. We are smarter and we have the technology to help these things.”

Mangla said the test takes no more than 30 minutes and results are instant. He did offer some warning signs.

“The symptoms are more noticeable when you are dehydrated,” Mangla said. “Drink water, pay attention to symptoms like passing-out spells. Do not take them lightly. If there is any concerns get an exam by a family physician and then we could get an EKG or ecocardiogram.”

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