The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Mann family devoted to heart testing athletes

Inexpensive. Noninvasive. Easy. According to Phil Mann, these words describe the test that could have saved his son’s life.

Jordan Mann passed away on May 26, 2007, just days after graduating from SMU. Jordan, an All-American soccer player on the SMU team, passed away in his sleep at his parents’ home in Prairie Village, Kan., because of cardiac arrhythmia.

A simple heart test given to all student athletes could have saved the 22 year old’s life, said Mann. Currently, student athletes only receive blood pressure, lung and hernia tests during the pre-participation physical.

The Mann family sent their son’s heart to a world-renowned cardiologist in St. Louis to discover if his condition is hereditary.

After a month of testing, the Mann family could finally confirm the cause of their son’s death. Jordan passed away from a cardiac arrhythmia that is also known as sudden death syndrome. A cardiac arrhythmia occurs when one of the arteries that supply blood to the heart is blocked. Jordan was born with one malformed artery that went undetected his entire life.

“A cruel irony is that Jordan’s grandfather is a cardiologist,” Mann said.

Although doctors noticed Jordan’s low heart rate, it was attributed to his extreme athleticism as a varsity soccer player.

Jeff Mattis is an assistant athletic trainer who works with the SMU men’s soccer and golf teams. He said the sports medicine team was aware of Jordan’s low heart rate, but his cardiac testing showed no abnormalities.

“He never had any problems at SMU,” Mattis said.

Instead of accepting flowers at Jordan’s funeral, the family set up the Jordan Mann Charitable Trust Fund. The foundation’s goal is to prevent other student athletes from dying of sudden death syndrome.

In early August, Mann joined a team of Kansas City cardiovascular consultants who were conducting a study involving 110 student athletes at the University of Kansas. The team’s goal is to improve the pre-participation physical given to students before they begin their careers as collegiate athletes.

According to Mann, schools are using the same physical that he did as a high school football player 30 years ago. His question is: Why hasn’t the technology improved?

One reason may be some doctors don’t think the extra testing is necessary. They said the current physical exam would pick up the same number of heart defects as an advanced system.

Dr. Jonathan Drezner debated extra heart testing in his article “Sudden Cardiac Death,” published in the Oct. 2000 edition of Postgraduate Medicine. According to his article, 21 states have inadequate high school pre-participation physicals. Dr. Drezner concludes, “pre-participation evaluation is the best tool to find cardiac arrhythmias.”

Dr. Anthony Magalski leads the study at the University of Kansas. His team uses a set of pre-participation protocol that more closely evaluates an athlete’s heart condition. The new protocol requires athletes to give a brief family history, have their blood pressure taken two to three times and then go through three brief evaluations with an on-site cardiologist.

The three new steps include an electrocardiogram test, which registers heart beat patterns on a chart, an evaluation of the electrocardiogram chart to look for abnormal heartbeat patterns and an echocardiogram, which uses sonogram technology to look at a physical picture of the heart.

The three tests look for two types of malformations: electrical, which regulates heartbeat patterns, and anatomical, which looks for physical abnormalities.

Out of the 110 university athletes that were tested, 11 had abnormal test results and one athlete had a dilated aorta. There was a hush over the whole research team, said Mann.

“We were both happy and sad. Happy because we were able to make a difference, and sad because the athlete’s heart was in danger,” he said.

As a result of the team’s finding, the University of Kansas had 600 more of its athletes tested. Six athletes were found to be at risk for sudden death syndrome.

While the team discovered abnormal findings, Dr. Magalski still doesn’t know at what stage a more thorough physical exam is needed.

“I’m just studying to see if it’s feasible and makes sense,” he said.

Mann plans to take the test to other college campuses. Next stop:SMU. Pending on meetings with SMU Athletic Director Steve Orsini, Mann would like to visit SMU either Nov. 3 or Nov. 10 of this year.

An SMU official said the program is still in the preliminary stages.

Elizabeth Chappell, who was Jordan’s girlfriend, would be the SMU campus representative.

“I think it’s good for students to hear it come from me, from someone who is so young,” 22-year-old Chappell said. “I don’t want another girlfriend, another family, another sibling, to have to go through what I went through.”

Jordan graduated from SMU on May 19, 2007, with a degree in finance. He was a major contributor to the men’s soccer team and played in the Collegiate Final Four tournament in 2005. He transferred to SMU from Furman University in Greenville, SC, in his sophomore year.

At Jordan’s memorial service, his brother, Phillip Mann Jr., described him with three words: passion, color and love.

Jordan’s friend, Scott Corbin, agrees those words describe him best.

“For the limited time Jordan was here, he touched so many lives,” he said.

Phil Mann knows the program won’t eliminate risks for student athletes, but he thinks it can reduce it.

In the early 1980s, Italian authorities started a program that requires all athletes to take an EKG and echocardiogram test. Since then, the number of sudden death syndrome cases has decreased from four per 100,000 to 0.4 per 100,000.

“Our biggest goal is to hopefully go to NCAA and modify pre-participation assessments,” Mann said. “If athletes are perceived as the top tier of conditioning and health and one percent of them have it, what about the general population?”

For more information on the Jordan Mann Charitable Trust Fund, visit the Web site inmemoryofjordan.com.

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