February 10, 2020

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Re: ‘Why The American Heart Association Believes My Life is Not Worth Living’

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To the Editor:


Recently, The Cornell Daily Sun ran an opinion column by Andrew Lorenzen focused on the issue of mandatory ECG screenings. Mr. Lorenzen has an incredible story to tell, and we appreciate him sharing it to bring awareness to a complex issue.

This is a sensitive topic, and we want to dispel any misunderstandings. The American Heart Association is committed to everyone living longer, healthier lives. That’s why we advocate for CPR training in schools and communities, and we work to make sure the public and healthcare providers understand the signs and symptoms that could be a trigger to provide an ECG. The role of the American Heart Association isn’t to mandate tests for any condition — the decision is for the patient and physician to make. We provide guidelines and recommendations, not directives for care or screening.

Screening tests with high sensitivity and low specificity, such as an ECG, can lead to a high number of false positives and unnecessary testing. It’s imperative to ask the right questions and listen to answers to focus testing. By conducting a rigorous screening of a person’s personal and family history, combined with a thorough medical exam, the likelihood of identifying a person with a potential cardiovascular condition is higher, hence making a test like an ECG more useful. As we work with innovation and technology in healthcare, we expect improvements that will impact screenings and outcomes for everyone.

In our minds, one life lost is one life too many. We know the best way to save lives is by working together across communities and healthcare systems, and through education. You can find more info about cardiac arrest and the work of the AHA at www.cpr.heart.org and https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cardiac-arrest.


Comilla Sasson, M.D., Ph.D., FAHA, FACEP V.P., ECC Science & Innovation American Heart Association