Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the #1 killer of student athletes. Kids hitting the playing fields should be screened with an EKG. In screenings throughout the nation, 1 in 100 kids have potentially fatal heart conditions.
What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
Occurs suddenly and often without warning.
An electrical malfunction (short circuit) causes the bottom chambers of the heart (ventricles) to
beat dangerously fast (ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation) and disrupts the pumping ability of
The heart cannot pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs of the body.
The person loses consciousness (passes out) and has no pulse.
Death occurs within minutes if not treated immediately.
What causes Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
Conditions present at birth
1 Inherited(passed on from parents/relatives)
2) Conditions of the heart muscle:
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy - hypertrophy (thickening) of the left ventricle; the most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest with athletes in America.
Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy -
replacement of part of the right ventricle by fat and scar; the most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest in Italy.
Disorder of the structure of blood vessels that makes them prone to rupture; often associated with very long arms and unusually flexible joints.§
Inherited conditions of the electrical system:
Lonq QT Syndrome -abnormality in the ion channels (electrical system) of the heart.
Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia
and Brugada Syndrome - other types of electrical abnormalities that are rare but run in families.§
NonInherited (not passed on from the family, but still present at birth)
Coronary Artery Abnormalities - abnormality of the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle. The second most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest in
athletes in the U.S.
Aortic valve abnormalities - failure of the aortic valve (the valve between the heart
and the aorta) to develop properly; usually causes a loud heart murmur.
Non compaction Cardiomyopathy - a condition where the heart muscle does not
Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome - an extra conducting fiber is present in the heart’s
electrical system and can increase the risk of arrhythmias.
Conditions not present at birth but acquired later in life:
Commotio Cordis - concussion of the heart that can occur from being hit in the chest
by a ball, puck, or fist.
Myocarditis - infection/inflammation of the heart, usually caused by a virus.
Recreational/Performance - Enhancing drug use
Idiopathic - Sometimes the underlying cause of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest is unknown, even after autopsy.
What are the symptoms/warning signs of Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
Fainting/blackouts (especially during exercise)
Shortness of breath
Palpitations (heart is beating unusually fast or skipping beats)
Family history of sudden cardiac arrest at age < 50
ANY of these symptoms/warning signs that occur while exercising may necessitate
further evaluation from your physician before returning to practice or a game
What is the treatment for Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
Time is critical and an immediate response is vital.
Use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)
For more information: Greer@GreerFirestone.com