Screening Could Prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest
Screening Marks National PE and Sport Month
Oceanside CA— As reported by the American Heart Association, up to 16,000 of youth are stricken each year from a syndrome the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association calls a public health crisis. Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) occurs when a heart unexpectedly stops beating because of an undetected heart abnormality. To combat this syndrome that is a leading cause of death on school campuses and the #1 killer of student athletes, the Eric Paredes Save A Life Foundation is hosting a free heart screening on Sunday, May 5 from 9 am to 3 pm at Oceanside High School, 1 Pirates Cove Way.
The screening marks National PE and Sports Month, as well as the annual renewal of sports physicals that clear high school athletes to play team sports. What’s not widely understood is that these PPEs do not check for heart conditions that put 1 in 300 youth at risk for SCA. According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research (NCAA), more athletes die from a cardiac arrest than from incurring injuries while playing sports. An abstract from the 2014 IOC World Conference of Prevention of Injury & Illness in Sport reports that SCA rates in U.S. high schools are significantly greater than previously reported. Leading organizations like the European Society of Cardiology, the International Olympic Committee and FIFA, soccer’s governing body, recommend EKG testing for competitive athletes. But in the U.S., EKG screening is reserved for professional athletes only, though there is no data to suggest that student athletes are at less risk.
The EP Save A Life Foundation has screened more than 30,000 youth, finding hundreds with a heart abnormality that unknowingly put them at risk. Parents can register any youth age 12 to 25 for the free screening at EPSaveALife.org, where they download a screening packet, complete and bring to the event.
“SCA is not a heart attack. It’s an abnormality in the heart’s electrical system that may be detected with a simple EKG. And even though the first symptom of SCA could be death, screenings are not a part of well-child checkups or pre-participation sports physicals, which is why Eric’s Foundation provides free heart screenings to area teens,” said Hector Paredes and Rhina Paredes-Greeson, founders of Eric’s Foundation.
The free heart screening consists of a cardiac questionnaire completed by parent & student, an electrocardiogram (EKG), a consultation with a cardiologist, and if indicated, a limited echocardiogram. It takes less than 60 minutes and is painless and non-invasive (no needles or x-ray exposure). Screenings are conducted by a 125-member volunteer team of San Diego cardiologists, nurses, techs and non-medical staff led by the foundation’s medical director, Dr. John Rogers, a Scripps cardiologist, who was recognized nationally by Parent Heart Watch as a 2014 Hero for Young Hearts.
Because SCA is fatal in 92% of cases if not treated within minutes, the screening also features demonstrations of what to do in a cardiac emergency: how to use hands-only CPR and an automated external defibrillation (AED), the only two life-saving measures once SCA strikes.
In addition to offering preventative heart screenings, the Eric Paredes Save A Life Foundation sponsored the Eric Paredes Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act in 2016, with now mandates landmark prevention protocol into high school sports program statewide. The law calls for coaches to be trained to recognize potential warning signs of SCA and be empowered to remove from play a student athlete who faints so they can get checked by a physician. Meanwhile, sports packets will include a parent/athlete information sheet that reviews warning signs and risk factors, including fainting (#1 sign of a heart condition); racing heart, palpitations or irregular heartbeat; dizziness or lightheadedness; chest pain, excessive shortness of breath and unexpected fatigue.
Founded to honor the Steele Canyon High School teen who lost his life to SCA at 15 in 2009, Eric’s Foundation strives to educate parents, educators, physicians and elected officials on the prevalence of SCA among teens and the importance of standardizing EKGs as part their regular health care. Established in 2010, the non-profit foundation provides free cardiac screenings to teens, with the ultimate goal of standardizing screenings among our youth, and equipping our schools with readily accessible automated external defibrillators (AED) with CPR/AED training for students and staff. For more information, visit EPSaveALife.org.