Rep. Connie Pillich (D- Montgomery), medical professionals and national community leaders joined together on Friday at the 7th Annual International SADS Foundation Conference on Preventing Sudden Cardiac Death in the Young to discuss the need for more awareness and procedures to protect student athletes from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).
Rep. Pillich presented on House Bill 180, which she introduced in May 2013. HB 180 seeks to educate parents, children and school and athletic personnel about cardiac arrest warning signs. HB 180 would make available an informational document about SCA to parents or guardians of student athletes. Prior to a child participating in school sport, a parent or guardian would be required to review and sign the document. Under HB 180, if a student exhibits any symptoms of SCA while playing a sport, the student must be removed from competition and may not return until cleared by a medical professional.
“In sports, the message that we often send our kids is to play through the pain and fatigue, but many people don’t realize that advice can be fatal,” said Rep. Pillich. “This bill takes a giant first step to protect our children from sudden cardiac arrest. Coaches and parents will be aware of the warning signs and will be in a position to take appropriate steps to protect our student athletes.”
Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops beating suddenly and unexpectedly. SCA is the leading cause of death of student athletes. It kills more than 4,000 young people a year which is four times more than childhood leukemia in the United States. SCA is the number one killer of adults in the country.
“Key warning signs exist and a child should be seen by a doctor if she/he has a family history of unexpected, unexplained sudden death in a young person; fainting (syncope) or seizure during exercise, excitement or startle; and consistent or unusual chest pain and/or shortness of breath during exercise,” explained Dr. Michael Ackerman, President of the Board of Trustees of the SADS Foundation and Director of the Smith Rice Sudden Death Genomics Laboratory at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "These conditions are absolutely treatable and treatment saves lives.”