Sudden Cardiac Arrest and Heart Disease In Sports
Risks in Young Sports Persons
The cause of SCD is attributed to an underlying heart problem (most commonly genetic) which is unmasked by the exercise. Exercise causes the heart to fibrillate, and then stop. The athlete collapses suddenly and if not resuscitated can die immediately, or within minutes.
The risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) in a young athlete is a significant public health concern, especially for athletic trainers and sports medicine physicians. Recent studies have shown that autopsy-negative sudden unexplained death is the leading cause of SCD in young athletes.
Emergency Action Plan (EAP)
Every school or institution that sponsors athletic activities needs a written and structured emergency action plan (EAP).5 The EAP should be developed and coordinated in consultation with emergency medical services (EMS) personnel and school officials, as well as on-site first responders and the team physicians. All personnel who cover athletic events should be familiar with the location and operation of the closest automatic external defibrillator (AED), since defibrillation is most effective within 3–5 min.
The AED placement should be in a location in proximity to the various athletic fields where athletic trainers cover events, or in the main athletic training room. In some cases, multiple AEDs are necessary. Regular drilling of the EAP with the medical staff / coaches and other staff is critical to seamless care being delivered in life-threatening situations.