Hawaii doctor makes breakthrough diagnosis of heart condition - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii doctor makes breakthrough diagnosis of heart condition

Andras Bratincsak Andras Bratincsak
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Hawaii doctor has made the first recorded diagnosis of a heart condition that can kill. All it takes is a blow to the chest. What led to the discovery was an incident involving a 16-year-old football player. He was hit in the chest by another player's helmet.

Kapiolani Medical Center pediatric cardiologist Andras Bratincsak diagnosed atrial arrhythmia caused by chest trauma.

"Because the top chamber is in this electrical chaos it sends very fast electrical signals to the bottom, so the heart rate will increase," he said. "It does not cause sudden cardiac death right away. But potentially if it goes unrecognized it can be dangerous, even life-threatening."

It has been documented that a blow to the chest can cause palpitations in the heart's lower chamber. Bratincsak's discovery proves that the upper chamber can also be affected. Left unchecked the condition can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

"More and more recognizable are cardiac conditions that can contribute to sudden cardiac death. So this is a valid study area," Brantincsak said.

He said the finding may start a discussion on better chest protection for young athletes. It also gives physicians a new reference point.

"For medical professionals, I would say, 'If you see atrial fibrillation, this chaotic rhythm in the heart on a young person, think about blunt chest trauma,'" he said.

In the 16-year-old's case, his heart corrected itself. Brantincsak also works at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.  He and fourth-year medical student Kyle Ota wrote a paper that will be published in the January 1, 2015, issue of "Pediatrics," the premiere journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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