Carolinas HealthCare System
Heart of a Champion

About Heart of a Champion Day

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"I participate in the Heart of a Champion screening because I feel it is an important way to diagnose cardiac conditions in the young athlete that might otherwise not be identified with a typical examination. By identifying these conditions, we can recommend the appropriate treatments and lifestyle modifications to ensure that they can continue to participate in athletics safely and to live normal lives," said Dr. Nicholas Sliz, Pediatric Cardiologist at Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute.

The program is directed by Dr. Nicholas Sliz, FACC, Pediatric Cardiologist at Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute, and Dr. David Price, Co-Director of Primary Care Sports Medicine at Carolinas Medical Center.

The Heart of a Champion Day program began as a pilot in 2006, offering 80 screenings to area student-athletes. The program partnered with surrounding schools in 2013, when nearly 2,400 student-athletes were screened in one day.

In 2013 more than 127 student-athletes and their families were notified of abnormal screening results. These student-athletes were referred for further medical evaluation and management of these conditions before being cleared to play sports. Conditions included WPW syndrome, long QT syndrome, bicuspid aortic valve, mitral valve prolapse, elevated blood pressure, post-concussion syndrome, uncontrolled asthma, overuse injuries, and vision problems.

Through the volunteer efforts of more than 650 healthcare professionals, the screenings valued at over $1,500 per student-athlete are provided to our community student-athlete at no cost.

Each student-athlete receives a free:

  • Review of medical history
  • General sports screening
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Echocardiogram (ECHO) - if indicated
  • Orthopedic screening (musculoskeletal exam)
  • Vision exam
  • Access to a registered dietician

An electrocardiogram (ECG) and echocardiogram (ECHO) are painless, non-invasive tests that provide information about the heart’s anatomy, rate and rhythm. These tests help to detect many potentially dangerous cardiac abnormalities including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a heart condition which is a leading cause of sudden death in young athletes.

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