BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES

Annual preparticipation physical evaluation (PPE) is used in the United States to screen adolescents for potential causes of sudden cardiac death. The American Heart Association recommends 14 screening elements of history and physical examination. This study sought to define the utilization of these screening elements by each of the 50 states before high school athletics.

METHODS

PPE forms were obtained from the public website of the high school athletics governing body in every state. Form content was analyzed to identify which of the 14 screening elements were explicitly fulfilled. Additional PPE forms provided by private/parochial schools, other professional societies, or independent groups were excluded from this study.

RESULTS

A total of 48 states (96%) had PPE forms posted online. The remaining 2 states (4%) deferred the specific method of PPE documentation to individual school districts and provided no standardized form. Of the 48 states providing PPE forms, 13 (27%) included all 14 American Heart Association screening elements. The median criteria included by each state was 11 (range 3–14). The 3 criteria most commonly absent were (1) the examination of femoral pulses to exclude coarctation (58%), (2) a family history of specific inherited cardiac disease (31%), and (3) personal history of hypertension (27%).

CONCLUSIONS

Annual preparticipation forms are important screening tools. Only a minority of states include all 14 cardiac screening elements recommended by the American Heart Association.

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