The first thing to know about this month’s health article is that while the topic of sudden cardiac death in athletes is frightening, it’s also rare. So, please, by all means don’t panic. However, it is something that we must all be aware of in order to prevent tragedy.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has revealed that 1 in 43,770 NCAA athletes die of sudden cardiac death each year.
The American Heart Association encourages student athletes to be screened by their physician/pediatrician with a careful history, including family history, and a thorough physical examination.
Lampford Mark was a star running back for Buchannan High School and the University of Nevada Reno. After his collegiate career, Lampford continued on with regular training but had episodes of syncope (fainting). After a check with his doctor, it was discovered that he was having irregular heart rhythms which predisposed him to sudden cardiac death. He was very fortunate that this was found. The result was he had an implantable cardiac defibrillator placed into his chest. This small device provides a life-saving shock to his heart when it goes into a threatening rhythm. Because of this, Lampford is able to continue on with his winning smile and champion ways. Warning signs and symptoms to be aware of are the following:
- Syncope/Fainting during or after physical activity or resulting from emotional excitement or distress
- Chest pain, discomfort, or a racing heartbeat
- Unusual shortness of breath or fatigue
- Dizziness or lightheadedness during or after physical activity
- Family history of heart disease, sudden death during physical activity
- For any of the above symptoms, discontinue activity and promptly consult a physician.
If any of these symptoms are witnessed by coaching staff or parents, it’s imperative to pull the student athlete from activity until a thorough examination is conducted. While these situations are distressing, they also can be prevented. So let’s do what we can to keep all of our athletes strong, healthy, and safe.
As always, Play Hard, Play Safe!
For more information: www.parentheartwatch.org
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