Doctors who performed heart screenings on 94 Grade 6 students in Houston found that seven had heart conditions, including two who needed surgery. The results surprised the researchers, who want mandatory heart screenings for all sixth graders in the United States.
"Usually, the first time these kids have symptoms is during cardiac arrest," study leader Dr. John Higgins told the Houston Chronicle, CBS News reported. "We had at least two cases in Houston last year where it was the first episode and they died," the cardiologist said.
Most of the students screened by Higgins and colleagues were black and Hispanic, and nearly half of them were overweight. Three students were diagnosed with stage 2 hypertension, while early onset of high blood pressure was found in others.
As part of the study, Higgins plans to conduct heart screenings on 1,500 middle schoolers in the Houston area. The screenings include an electrocardiogram, an echocardiogram, a physical exam and a health history.