While other injuries receive more attention, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a major cause of death for youth and teen athletes during sports.
With proper preparation and training, event administrators can greatly reduce tragic outcomes when an incident occurs.
Sudden cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack. It is the result of structural or electrical disorders in the heart that lead to a lethal arrhythmia. Structural disorders can be heart muscle diseases such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, where the heart muscle becomes unnaturally thick, making it more prone to arrhythmias and harder to pump blood. Sometimes the heart is structurally normal, but electrical impulses in the heart become abnormal, leading to SCA.
Through preseason medical checks and regular doctor’s visits, parents and coaches sometimes have advanced knowledge of an athlete’s heart disorder. However, one of the main challenges for parents and the medical community is that the majority of young athletes who suffer sudden cardiac arrest on the playing field have no warning symptoms. The first sign of their heart condition could be collapse during exercise and the cardiac arrest itself.
It is critical that all people concerned with the sport are aware of how to deal with Sudden Cardiac Arrest.
USA Football has produced comprehensive guidance on Sudden Cardiac Arrest, including:
- Working to prevent SCA
- Advocacy for defibrillators
- Identifying the symptoms
Watch the videos and download the resources here.