Raleigh, N.C. — A Clayton family hopes their loss can teach others about the potential danger of undiagnosed heart problems. The parents of Hogan Teem are working with WakeMed Heart Center to sponsor free screening for other young athletes this weekend.
Hogan, 17, collapsed at baseball practice in December.
"He wasn't even running. He was walking," his mother, Alyson Teem, said. "And he walked up to Coach Houser and said, 'I don't feel good.'"
Hogan had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. He collapsed, and emergency personnel were unable to revive him.
Hogan was one of the over 2,000 Americans under the age of 25 who die each year from sudden cardiac arrest. For competitive athletes, the risk is three times greater.
"(There was) never any indication that there was anything the matter," Alyson Teem said.
Dr. Graham Snyder, a WakeMed emergency physician, said Hogan's heart muscles had grown a little bit thicker than normal, a condition that can interfere with the flow of blood.
Sometimes, there are noticeable symptoms. "Sadly, often there are no signs at all and then the presenting symptom can be sudden death," Snyder said.
Even routine annual sports physicals missed the problem with his heart. He had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Normal physicals did not detect Hogan's problem. It takes an EKG exam to identify potential signs of the disease.
It is that test that WakeMed is offering for free on Saturday to young athletes, in the name of Hogan.
"We just want to make a difference," his mother said. "I want people to test their kids."
Athletes diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can treat the condition with restrictions on activity and medication. More extreme cases can require surgery.
Hogan's parents are also active in the Miracle League of Johnston County, raising money to build a baseball field for children with special needs.