By Gretchen Pahia
Photo Courtesy of the Anthony Bates Foundation
In the United States, thousands of children are diagnosed with heart problems each year. There are two main types of heart problems in children – congenital and acquired. One of the best ways to keep ahead of any lurking, undiagnosed heart issues is to do regular screening with electrocardiogram (EKG) and echocardiogram (ultrasound) testing. And for more than two decades, one Valley resident has been taking measures to ensure that no other children nor their families suffer from losses endured due to heart problems.
Local resident Sharon Bates knows the pain of pediatric heart issues all too well. Her only child, Anthony, died suddenly of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), also known as an enlarged heart. He was a seemingly healthy college athlete who’d gone under extensive physicals throughout most of his life, but his disease was never detected because EKGs are not required in youth physicals. In the more than twenty years since Anthony’s death, Sharon and her supporters have been on a mission to do everything they can to promote health and heart awareness through the Anthony Bates Foundation (ABF). The foundation’s mission is to provide cardiac screenings for anyone ages 10 and up who need them.
“There is a huge gap in our medical system,” Sharon explains. “Medical professionals chase symptoms but, like in Anthony’s case, we had no family history and no cardiac symptoms. Health insurance doesn’t cover heart exams for children unless there are symptoms and, in cases such as my son’s, the only symptom was sudden cardiac death, and it was just too late by that time.”
Symptoms of cardiac issues amongst kids that parents can watch for include dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, fainting, fatigue, blacking out, palpitations, or a racing heart. The problem is these symptoms are common among teenagers so medical treatment may not be immediately sought.
That is where ABF comes in. “We provide comprehensive cardiac tests that include a two page health history questionnaire, blood pressure checks, EKG and ultrasound, or echocardiogram,” Sharon says. “The screening tests are reviewed by cardiologists who volunteer their time to help all the participants.”
When asked what she thought Anthony would think of the work the foundation was doing, she says, “He would be super excited about the effort we do in his honor. He was an Eagle Scout and always put others first in his mind and his heart. I am truly blessed to have been his mother.”
The foundation advocates for better heart healthcare for youth and the work they do not only helps educate but saves lives. Their team has screened more than 16,250 youth hearts and have diagnosed more than 2,220 heart issues. Of those issues, more than 400 lives have been saved thanks to the work of the ABF.
The Anthony Bates Foundation is located at 10211 N. 32nd Street, Ste. G, in Phoenix and has regular screenings most Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays for youth and adults. To learn more, visit
anthonybates.org or call 602-482-5606.