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‘Save an Athlete’ Scheme to Prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest in US College Athletes

Filed under: News/Events - Posted on Tuesday, September 26th, 2006 @ 2:57 am

A Heart for Sports (AFHS) announced today that it is working with Royal Philips to conduct a cardiac screening event at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), Los Angeles, that includes both electrocardiogram (ECG) and echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) exams. During the event, Philips and AHFS aim to educate LMUs NCAA Division I student athletes, athletic directors and coaches about preventing sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in athletes on and off the field.
Affecting approximately 5,000-7,000 young people each year, sudden cardiac arrest in college athletes is sometimes caused by congenital cardiovascular conditions, such as Long QT Syndrome or Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM).
According to the Cleveland Clinic, HCM, a condition that causes excessive thickening of the heart muscle, affects as many as 1.5 million Americans, making it the most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest in people under age 30.
Preventative measures such as cardiac screenings are needed to detect an individuals risk to these types of conditions. In fact, an ECG exam can help detect heart conditions that account for nearly 60 percent of sudden cardiac arrests in young athletes.
“There are inherent risks in athletic participation for student athletes and it is our hope that testing of this nature will identify life-threatening issues that may come to the attention of the athlete before it is too late,” said Dr. Bill Husak, athletic director at LMU.
“No system is perfect or fool-proof, but if we have the ability to make these tests available, we should take advantage of them in an effort to prevent tragedies before they occur.”
While today’s cardiac screening event is taking place with college athletes, it is important for children of all ages involved in sports to be screened. To help educate parents of student athletes about starting a screening program in their community and raise awareness of the issue, Philips launched a Web site, www.saveanathlete.org. The Web site provides a forum for parents, doctors and athletic officials to obtain more information on the benefits and need for sports screening physicals that include cardiac testing. Sudden death in young athletes due to heart disease is an important public health problem, said Dr. Barry Maron, senior investigator and director for the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center, Minneapolis Heart Institute. Screening large athlete populations for heart disease carries with it the potential for preventing these tragedies. It is our clear aspiration that screenings such as this one will become a model for such efforts throughout the country, and in the process will in fact save lives. Every LMU student athlete will receive a cardiac screening that includes examinations with a Philips PageWriter ECG cardiograph and a Philips iE33 echo ultrasound. Philips HeartStart defibrillators will also be demonstrated to educate attendees about the use of an automated external defibrillator in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest on the playing field.
“This is something that I am very passionate about, being so close to it,” said Holly Morrell, executive director of AHFS and an HCM patient.
“I hope this event will increase awareness about these potentially fatal cardiac conditions and give student athletes the opportunity to ensure their safety and health.” Philips has joined forces with several organizations in recent years to coordinate cardiac screening events nationwide.
Additionally, in April 2006, Philips launched the Save an Athlete campaign to raise awareness about the importance of preventative cardiac screenings, which included evaluating approximately 2,500 high school students in Phoenix. Philips recognizes the importance of conducting these kinds of screening events which is why it launched its Save an Athlete initiative and are dedicated to supporting organizations like A Heart for Sports, said Michael Miller, senior vice president, Cardiac Care, for Philips Medical Systems. We realize that these tests are instrumental in preventing deaths in student athletes, and we are proud to help raise awareness about this important issue. It is our hope that proactive cardiac screenings like this one become a trend and continue at many other institutions. The cardiac screenings will take place today at LMUs Gersten Pavilion from 8:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m. PDT. Approximately 400 student athletes from LMU will be screened using ECGs and echo ultrasound exams to help uncover potentially serious heart problems. A Heart for Sports (AHFS) is a nonprofit California Public Benefit Corporation dedicated to saving young lives from sudden cardiac arrest through early detection and increased public awareness.
AHFS conducts free community-based cardiac screenings for high school and collegiate student/athletes in an effort to strengthen collaborative relationships among health professionals who care for cardiac conditions. Its mission is to develop programs designed to increase public awareness, encourage research, promote early detection of the risks of sudden cardiac arrest, and improve the cardiac health of the community. For more information, please visit . Founded in 1911, Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles is the eighth largest of the nations 28 Jesuit universities with more than 5,400 undergraduate and 3,000 graduate and law students. The Universitys athletics department is a member of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) with 18 of its 21 varsity programs competing at the NCAA Division I level. Since 2000, LMU has won 17 conference championships and advanced to 23 NCAA championships.
A Heart for Sports (AHFS) is a nonprofit California Public Benefit Corporation dedicated to saving young lives from sudden cardiac arrest through early detection and increased public awareness. AHFS conducts free community-based cardiac screenings for high school and collegiate student/athletes in an effort to strengthen collaborative relationships among health professionals who care for cardiac conditions. Its mission is to develop programs designed to increase public awareness, encourage research, promote early detection of the risks of sudden cardiac arrest, and improve the cardiac health of the community. For more information, please visit www.aheartforsports.org.

26 September, 2006.

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