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Sudden Cardiac Death: What Parents Can Do

Many dangers seem to be lurking in unexpected places when you have children. From childhood diseases to accidents and even paralysis, it seems that there is always a parent going through a difficult situation.

None seems as tragic as sudden cardiac death. This is a sudden death usually occurring while your teen is playing sports. It is very rare, but very real.

Most teens who die unexpectedly from sudden cardiac death were not known to have heart disease. They lived every day in normal fashion. When they suddenly succumb to a cardiac death it is shocking, and very sad indeed.

Every year it seems you hear about a promising athlete who seems to be the perfect picture of health, who then suddenly collapses and dies while playing sports. Most of these young athletes are dying from what is known as hypertropic cardiomyopathy or HCM.

Sports physicals, of course, ask for detailed family history. Unfortunately these don’t tell the whole picture when it comes to every child and their health. So, what can be done to recognize the risk of HCM?

  • When any teen is interested in playing school sports, they will have to fill out a school sports questionnaire and undertake physicals for school sports. Have your physician at Pediatrix complete this form.
  • Ask all family members to give you information about any history of cardiac death under the age of 50. This would include any unexplained deaths and any drownings.
  • Sudden cardiac death doesn’t display many symptoms, but fainting spells, shortness of breath, high blood pressure in your teen, and heart murmurs are all signs that something is not right and more testing should be requested.
  • ECGs or electrocardiograms, are good for screening for sudden cardiac death. This should be included when getting a physical for sports.
  • Ensure that the school where your child plays sports is equipped with an AED or automatic external defibrillator, and that there are coaches, teachers, and administrators who will always be on site to operate it.

Even teens with heart conditions can participate in most sporting events. Whether or not you wish for your child to do so will be a personal choice. Your child doctor visits in Phoenix will be able to give you the best advice, based on sound testing, for whether or not your teen should play sports.

Sudden cardiac death is, unfortunately, not preventable. There are signs to look for, however. Be aware of what these signs are.

Posted in Blog on June 21st, 2016