Each year thousands of children, teens and young adults suffer Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). SCA is a medical emergency. If not treated within minutes it usually causes death.
SCA is not the same as a heart attack. SCA is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating, usually due to irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias that stop the flowing of blood to the brain and other vital organs. SCA can happen in people who appear healthy and have no known heart disease or other risk factors. The leading causes of SCA in the young are undetected heart abnormalities, including Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), coronary artery abnormalities, Myocarditis, Long Q-T Syndrome (LQTS) and Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, among others. Commotio Cordis (a blow to the chest) can also cause SCA.
SCA victims can survive if they receive immediate CPR and are treated rapidly with Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). An AED is a device that sends an electric shock to the heart to restore its normal rhythm. To be effective, this treatment must be delivered ideally within three to five minutes after collapse.
Learn the Chain of Survival
This is a four-step intervention process developed by the American Heart Association.
The worst thing for an SCA victim is that bystanders do nothing. Sometimes people hesitate to help because they are afraid they might do the wrong thing and hurt the victim. But the SCA victim is already clinically dead and cannot get worse. Your actions can only help.
The warning signs and symptoms of a heart condition in children and young adults frequently go undetected or are misdiagnosed. Those who live and work with youth must be aware of these signs and symptoms and if any exist they should be reported to the child’s physician immediately.
Medical professionals must be more acutely aware of the warning signs and symptoms of a heart condition.
These symptoms include: