Sudden cardiac death among student athletes

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The story of Jake West requires repeating, especially for parents who have children in sports.

In September 2013, the LaPorte High School junior collapsed during a football practice, and died suddenly.

His mother, Julie, said in a documentary put together by Mike Jansen of Praxis Media Group, that she had no idea her son had a problem.

"Jake was a vibrant healthy young man and an athlete. On September 25th, Jake passed away during football practice due to an undetected heart condition.”

In fact, an autopsy showed Jake had an enlarged right ventricle.

Sudden cardiac death is rare in young athletes, thankfully. But when it happens, it’s many times, deadly.

“A sudden cardiac arrest is probably the leading cause of death in young athletes, unfortunately it’s a silent presenter,” says Dr. Patrick Kersey a physician with St. Vincent sports performance.

According to the journal of the American college of cardiology, sudden cardiac death hits more males than females, African American athletes and basketball and football players.

But the one place, a doctor might get a clue that an athlete carries a risk of SCD, is the information gleaned from the history and physical.

“Anyone in a family or an extended family, who’s had a cardiac event under the age of 40 is someone that we are very interested in,” says Dr. Kersey.

Jake’s death shocked the community where he lived. A local hospital offered to do screenings that included an electrocardiogram, a measure of the heart’s electrical output.

“Sometimes that wiring and how its functional capacity is working, can be picked up on that EKG,” says Dr. Kersey.

The device Dr. Kersey believes should be at every practice and event is the automated external defibrillator, or AED.

“It’s been proved to improve survival rates tenfold, when it’s administered appropriately,” says Dr. Kersey.

Jake west never saw it coming and most athletes don’t.  For more on SCD click here.

4 Your Health is sponsored by American Senior Communities

 

 

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