MEDIA ADVISORY: UCSF PlaySafe Program Offers Free Cardiac Physicals for High School Athletes

By Scott Maier

What: The PlaySafe program in the UC San Francisco Department of Orthopaedic Surgery is providing its free annual spring sports cardiac physicals on May 6. The comprehensive cardiac screenings will be offered for up to 600 student-athletes from San Francisco, Redwood, Sir Francis Drake and Tamalpais high schools who are participating in a California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) sport. The event aims to detect hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the leading cause of sudden death in young athletes, which often occurs with few or no symptoms.

Media are invited to attend. RSVP to Scott Maier. For assistance on the day of the physicals, please contact Kathleen Jay at (415) 225-9617.

When: 8 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Saturday, May 6, 2017

Where: UCSF Sports Medicine Clinic, Orthopaedic Institute at UCSF Mission Bay campus, 1500 Owens Street, San Francisco (campus map)

Why: The PlaySafe physicals aim to prevent sudden death by detecting underlying medical abnormalities in high school student-athletes. Since its inception in 2009, the program has screened more than 3,000 student-athletes from nearly 20 public and private high schools in San Francisco, the East Bay and the Peninsula. Conducted by an expert interdisciplinary team of UCSF sports-medicine physicians, orthopaedic surgeons and athletic trainers, the clinic provides multiple stations that offer an eye exam, blood pressure test, consultation and physical exam itself. It is the only program of its kind to offer comprehensive cardiac screening that includes electrocardiography (EKG), an electronic tracing that can detect abnormalities in heart shape and/or size, as well as cardiac tissue damage. An echocardiogram (ultrasound) also will be on site for participants requiring additional screening beyond the EKG.

“Keeping young athletes safe during sports should always be our first intention,” said Anthony Luke, MD, director of primary care sports medicine at UCSF Health and PlaySafe program director. “Some conditions, like heart problems, are hard to identify, so doing what we can to help athletes excel and be healthy is paramount. It’s important that families make sure kids get a good physical examination by their physician.” 

PlaySafe also has an outreach component with 12 athletic trainers and 10 physicians who work with high school programs throughout the year.

Event support is provided by UCSF sports medicine, cardiology and pediatric cardiology; California Pacific Medical Center pediatric cardiology; National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame; CIF San Francisco section office; and GE Healthcare.

UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences; and a preeminent biomedical research enterprise. It also includes UCSF Health, which comprises three top-ranked hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland, and other partner and affiliated hospitals and healthcare providers throughout the Bay Area.