5 Shocking Facts about Kids and Cardiac Arrest You Should Know
1. The 2015 Heart And Stroke Statistics released by the American Heart Association estimate more than 6,000 patients under 18 years of age suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year in the US. Of those, approximately 2,000 result in death. https://www.sca-aware.org/sca-news/aha-releases-2015-heart-and-stroke-statistics
2. Getting hit in the chest with a hard object can cause cardiac arrest. Participation in sports where the chest is unprotected such as baseball, soccer, martial arts, and lacrosse exponentially increase a child’s risk of suffering sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). This phenomenon is known as Commotio Cordis. On average, 15-year-old males are at the greatest risk.
∗ A hit must occur at a precise time in the heart’s rhythm, sending it into ventricular fibrillation where the heart just quivers and does not effectively pump blood.
∗ The child will collapse shortly after the hit, will have no pulse and will not be breathing.
∗ Immediate CPR and early defibrillation are critical! Ask your child’s coach if they have a cardiac emergency response plan and if an AED is available during practices and games.
3. The biggest risk factors for youth SCA are genetic heart abnormalities which can be uncovered using family history questionnaires and simple ECG tests.
∗ Many organizations offer free or low-cost screening. According to Screen Across America, a consortium of screening groups, there are about 50 organizations in 26 states which now offer ECGs to student athletes at little or no cost. https://news.heart.org/screening-young-athletes-for-heart-disease/
∗ Some states require testing before participation in high school sports programs
∗ Early tests sometimes resulted in ‘false-positives” which some cardiac organizations felt put undue stress and financial burden on parents to receive further testing for their child. Modern tests take into account things like ‘athlete’s heart’ whereby an athlete who has trained for many years will have a slightly enlarged heart and lower resting rate than someone who has not. This can alter ECG readings and must be ruled out when diagnosing serious disorders. https://circ.ahajournals.org/content/132/Suppl_3/A16387.abstract
∗ If you know there is a history of heart-related illnesses anywhere in your child’s family, you may want to seriously consider having your child screened prior to participating in any sports whether or not your school or state requires testing.
4. Only 20 states require at least some of their schools have AEDs. In those states, the requirements are widely varied with regard to public, private, elementary, secondary and college requirements. – https://www.sca-aware.org/aed-laws
∗ During the school year, children spend about 19% of their week at school
∗ Most cardiac arrests in children occur during sporting events, so children who participate in school sports have a higher risk of SCA
∗ Find out if your school has an AED program, a cardiac emergency response plan, and if all adult staff are trained in CPR/AED.
5. The good news! Recovery rates after early treatment (early CPR and AED deployment) are higher in children and young adults than older adults, and much higher when the event is witnessed. https://www.sca-aware.org/sca-news/aha-releases-2015-heart-and-stroke-statistics
∗ One of the reasons the recovery rate for children and young adults may be higher is because children under 18 are in the presence of adults most of the time, so their events are witnessed more often.
∗ Adults have a 31% survival rate
∗ Children under 18 have a 53.3% survival rate.