May 1, 2014

Go Columbia May 1: Test your heart, save your life

Find out if you’re really healthy, or just feel that way, thanks to Providence Hospital

Heart disease is sneaky. You may think you’re in great shape, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. But that may not be enough. One in 500 people suffers from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is an abnormal thickening of the heart muscle.

On Thursday, May 1, you can find out if you’re really healthy, or just feel that way, thanks to Providence Hospital, which will offer free echocardiograms to athletes of all ages. Dan Chambers, clinical manager of Cardiovascular Imaging and the Director of the School for Cardiovascular Diagnostics at Providence, will oversee the screenings, which will be performed by his students. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy has almost no symptoms. “Some sufferers will have a bit of dizziness or feel tired after a tough workout, but, as athletes, they tend to attribute it to dehydration or an extra long run,” explains Chambers. “For the vast majority, though, there’s no warning. The heart just can’t work any harder.”

2. The issue tends to go undetected in athletes because they assume they’re healthy. “If you’re overweight or have high blood pressure, chances are you doctor will order a test that will reveal a heart issue,” says Chambers. “But if you’re in good shape, there’s very little reason for a doctor to order any type of heart test. You could be a ticking time bomb and have no idea.”

3. The test is painless, non-invasive and takes just a few minutes. “An echocardiogram is basically a sonogram of the heart,” notes Chambers.

Participants must pre-register. To pre-register, call (803) 256-5381. Tests will be conducted at Providence Hospital’s downtown campus, 2435 Forest Drive.

Katie McElveen, Special to The State

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