To his family and friends, Dakota High School center fielder Bill Karvounis, 15, was the picture of health … energetic, strong, fast, lean and agile.
This past October his baseball coach sent an e-mail to all his players encouraging them to participate in the “Healthy Heart Check” screening offered by Beaumont Hospitals at Oakland University.
Bill, a sophomore, talked to his parents and they all agreed he’d participate. In fact, he and his parents made the trip from their home in Macomb to the Rochester Hills campus on a Saturday.
Explains, his mother, Linda, “I was confident Bill would come out of the screening with a clean bill of health. In fact, I expected the Beaumont doctors to say, ‘Your son’s cardiovascular health is excellent.’”
Instead, what she found out came as a shock. She and her husband, Tom, were told Bill needed further medical follow up. The medical team suspected he had a serious heart condition.
“Naturally my husband and I were extremely concerned, in disbelief, because it was Bill’s heart,” says Linda. “How can someone in such good shape have a heart problem?”
After the screening, subsequent testing confirmed Bill had a heart disorder known as Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. This potentially life-threatening condition is caused by an extra electrical circuit in the heart and may cause episodes of rapid heart rate.
Bill was referred to Brian Williamson, M.D., a Beaumont cardiologist and electrophysiologist. In January, Dr. Williamson performed a successful ablation procedure. As in Bill’s case, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome can be corrected in most people with a single ablation treatment performed in a heart catheterization lab.
Amazingly, after one night in the hospital and three weeks of low-key activity at home and school, he returned to sports. Today, Bill is batting about .400 on his junior varsity baseball team.
Prior to the screening, he says he really didn’t experience any noticeable symptoms of a heart problem. However, he admits last baseball season at times he felt light-headed, which he attributed to being dehydrated from the heat.
With Beaumont offering more community heart screenings in the coming months, he’s encouraging all high school students to participate, “It’s definitely worth having your heart checked out. It’s free. You’ve got nothing to lose.”
Naturally, his mother Linda agrees, “I appreciate the dedication of the Beaumont doctors who volunteer their time to test our kids. Their simple 20-minute screening program saves lives. It’s a wonderful community service.”