Katy ISD will be able to offer students and staff electrocardiogram screenings during physical exams beginning in February, according to a district news release.

The screenings will take place during University Interscholastic League physicals and will allow district staff to proactively monitor student athlete cardiovascular health when participating in school sports programs, enabling early detection of potential issues.

Aetna, the health care insurance provider, donated 10 medical devices to the district for use in the exams.

Students wishing to participate in sports in the district will have the option to undergo the on-site ECG screenings for a $20 fee, separate from the $30 cost of standard physical examination for athletes, according to the news release.

What they’re saying

"Leveraging cutting-edge technology, Katy ISD is taking a proactive approach to student and staff well-being with the introduction of ECG devices during UIL physicals,” Lance Nauman, KISD director of risk management, said in the news release. “This initiative underscores our commitment to harness state-of-the-art tools for health monitoring, providing valuable insights into cardiac health for early detection.”

The ECG screenings will be conducted by Memorial Hermann doctors who will be assisted by KISD nurses. The UIL encourages parents and guardians to accompany students during the UIL physicals to gain a more comprehensive understanding of their child's cardiac health.

"We are excited to introduce this new layer of health screening for our student-athletes," KISD Executive Athletic Director Lance Carter said in the news release. "The addition of on-site ECG screenings aligns with our ongoing commitment to prioritize the health and safety of our student-athletes. Early detection of cardiac irregularities can be crucial in preventing potential health risks, and we believe this initiative will contribute to the overall well-being of our students.”

Some context

In 2019 the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 76, also known as Cody’s Law, in honor of Cody Stephens, who died from an undetected heart condition weeks before graduation from Crosby High School. The law gives parents in Texas school districts the right to choose heart screening for their child, according to the KISD release.

In 2013, the UIL Legislative Council, based on recommendation of the UIL’s Medical Advisory Committee, adopted the mandatory use of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Form, which must be signed annually by the student and the student's parent or guardian to be allowed to participate in sports activities in Texas.

On the UIL website, Dr. Arnold Fenrich Jr. warns of the potential for sudden cardiac death, which he defines as an abrupt occurrence where the heart ceases to function and results in death within minutes. Fenrich lists the following symptoms that may indicate heart health issues:
  • Palpitations, meaning feeling fast or skipped heart beats
  • Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  • Chest pain or chest tightness with exercise
  • Shortness of breath
  • Syncope, meaning fainting or passing out