ORMOND BEACH, Fla. (WESH) — Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death among high school athletes.
Back in May, Volusia County Schools partnered with AdventHealth to offer heart screenings in addition to state-required physicals.
For one teenage soccer player in Ormond Beach, the voluntary screening led to a discovery he and his family believe was life-saving.
“It was potentially lifesaving for something that we had no idea that he had,” Jill Piazza said. “It’s one of those stories that you hear on the news of a kid collapsing on the soccer field and not being able to wake up.”
Piazza’s 16-year-old son, Ethan is a competitive soccer player who was diagnosed with and treated for a congenital heart condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. Though he had no symptoms, Ethan had an extra electrical pathway in his heart.
“It can lead to a very rapid heart rate, 2 to 300 beats a minute, and it can lead to more lethal arrhythmias including sudden cardiac death in rare cases,” she said.
The Volusia County School District partnered with AdventHealth over the summer to offer free electrocardiogram screenings to local athletes at Daytona International Speedway. To be safe, the Piazza family took advantage of the free screening event.
Ethan, like his mother, was shocked.
“I just didn’t even know I had it,” Ethan Piazza said.
Piazza has played soccer since he was four and is on the Seabreeze High School varsity team. With no history of any medical issues, the family figured it was a false positive result until doctors confirmed Ethan’s condition.
“Playing soccer, club and high school, I could have had a cardiovascular episode just anytime, you know a heart attack or, you know anything of that sort,” Piazza said.
Ethan underwent a heart ablation at AdventHealth for Children in Orlando in September after delays due to COVID-19. His mom said it was worth the wait.
“It completely kills the pathway — prevents it from transmitting electrical impulses, and it’s essentially a cure,” Ethan’s mom said.
“It’s very relieving just knowing what could have happened and that we prevented it safely,” Ethan said.
He is back on the field and scored his first goal of the varsity season this week. While Ethan’s healthy, his mom is happy.
“Don’t hesitate to get your kids screened because it could save your life absolutely,” Jill Piazza said.
Visit AdventHealth to find out more about free and low-cost heart screenings near you.