Adams’ Death Likely Preventable

January 18th, 2010

Joe is especially sick about the tragic death of Gaines Adams on Sunday.

Joe had spent some one-on-one time with Adams and, which makes the death more tragic, Joe knows that Adams’ death likely was preventable.

Joe’s not a doctor, but the enlarged heart that led to Adams’ heart attack is detectable with a simple echocardiogram, a painless sonogram of the heart that can find numerous abnormalities. The test has been around since at least the 1980s.

An echocardiogram can cost several hundred dollars at a cardiologist, or sometimes you can get one in a diagnostic truck in a Walgreen’s or CVS parking lot for $150.

Despite pro sports teams investing tens of millions in athletes, only a small percentage of teams require an echocardiogram for players.

Just plain stupid, if you ask Joe.

Joe suspects that we’ll all learn later today from the media (medical reporters don’t usually work weekends) that the Bears, and most likely the Bucs, are not among the teams that perform the test on players.  

Here’s more on enlarged hearts from a story written in the aftermath of Adams’ death by Kathleen Blanchard, of EmaxHealth:

Athletes are known to have enlarged hearts. It is the body’s way of adapting to intense exercise, and it is not a disease like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The condition can be found with a routine echocardiogram.

Dr. Lori Mosca, director of preventive cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital explained in 2007 at a meeting of the American Heart Association, following the sudden death of marathon runner Ryan Shay, age 28,…”so-called “athlete’s heart” thickens the heart muscle overall, …

A study from Johns Hopkins published last year recommended EKG and echocardiogram testing for athletes, rather than EKG alone. One in five Americans has cardiomyopathy, or enlarged heart, that is undiagnosed. Researchers for the aforementioned study pointed out the importance for athletes to report symptoms of chest pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath that could be considered normal during intense training.

From Joe’s understanding, an enlarged heart is treatable.

If it had been detected and treated in Adams, the condition probably would have knocked him out of the NFL, but not out of life at 26.

4 Responses to “Adams’ Death Likely Preventable”

  1. Larry Says:

    Back in 1995, 28-year-old Sergei Grinkov, a two-time Olympic gold-medal-winning Russian pairs skater had an enlarged heart and died. You’d think that athletes would look out for that, especially football players who play with such intensity.

  2. justin Says:

    I think we also must place some responsibility on the nfl for not mandating these test its just like concusions they need to have more guidelines.

  3. Jimmie Says:

    Definitely! In fact, all Sports Associations including the NCAA need to have some kind of mandate for Echocardiogram test, especially given what happened to Southern Indiana Player Jeron Lewis this past week. It’s inexcusable for Sports Associations not to have a mandate on EKGs, since the heart is one of our main organs that we have in order to live our lives.

    To be honest, responsibility goes all around, especially since athletes have to lookout for themselves health-wise.

  4. George C. Costanza Says:

    It’s true, Joe.

    I know of at least one pro sports team, the Oklahoma City Thunder of the NBA, that has echocardiograms performed on their players as part of their yearly physical exams.

    The reason I know is my niece performs the echos.