Know the risk factors of sudden cardiac arrest in student athletes

Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death for student athletes.

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – The effects of sudden cardiac arrest can be quick and deadly.

The condition happens when there’s an abnormality in the heart’s electrical system that abruptly stops the heartbeat. It may sound like it’s a disease that only affects adults, but sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death for student athletes.

“One in 300 will carry a form of cardiovascular disease that predisposes them to have a risk of sudden cardiac arrest,” said Gul Dadlani, MD, Chief of Pediatric Cardiology at Nemours Children’s Hospital.

If not treated properly within minutes, sudden cardiac arrest is fatal in 92% of cases. School physicals are designed to check if a student athlete is fit to play, but not all the time.

“There are studies that show that 90 to 96% of things that are going to kill our kids are missed on that standard physical,” physician assistant Shawn Sima said.

So, what symptoms should parents look for?

“Having chest pain, shortness of breath or becomes dizzy and passes out with exercise. Those are always red flags,” Dadlani said.

But most don’t experience any symptoms at all before sudden cardiac arrest. So, the best form of prevention is to get your child an EKG screening, which is not included in a standard physical.

“An EKG enhances detection of forms of cardiovascular disease that can cause sudden cardiac arrest. EKG screening is a very simple, cost-effective test that can save lives,” Dadlani said.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, every year around 2,000 people 25 years and younger die of sudden cardiac arrest.

Pediatricians recommend parents get an EKG screening for their child no matter if they are an athlete or not, and they can do so by requesting one during a clinical visit or adding it to a sport’s physical. MDsave says the EKG average cost is about $200.