Why Warning Signs Get Missed
The reality is that we live in a very competitive world, and kids are daily encouraged to rise to the challenge. Young people often don’t tell adults if they experience symptoms, and parents often urge their kids to play hard.
- Athletes (and often their parents) don’t want to jeopardize their playing time, so they may avoid telling parents or coaches in hopes that the symptoms will “just go away” on their own.
- Kids may be embarrassed they can’t keep up, thinking they’re out of shape and just need to train harder.
- Having felt this way all their life, they may be unaware that what they are feeling indicates a potentially fatal condition.
We need to let student athletes know that if they experience any of the symptoms below, it is crucial to alert an adult and get follow-up care right away with an appropriate physician. Additionally, if the athlete has any of the SCA risk factors, these should also be immediately discussed with a doctor to determine if a heart screening is needed.
Symptoms or Potential Indicators that Put Youth at Risk for SCA
- fainting or seizure, especially during or right after exercise
- fainting repeatedly or with excitement or startle
- racing heart, palpitations or irregular heartbeat
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- chest pain or discomfort with exercise
- excessive shortness of breath during exercise
- excessive, unexpected fatigue during or after exercise
Family Heart History and Risk Factors that Put Youth at Risk for SCA
- family history of known heart abnormalities or sudden death before age 40
- family members with unexplained fainting, seizures, drowning, near drowning or car accidents
- known structural heart abnormality, repaired or unrepaired
- personal use of diet pills, performance-enhancing supplements and energy drinks
- use of drugs, such as cocaine, inhalants or “recreational” drugs
Get Your Tools
SCA Fact Sheets
SCA Law Fact Sheet with Signature Page (English and Spanish)
SCA Law Fact Sheet for Coaches, Administrators and Sports Officials
SCA Sideline Action Plan
Cardiac Chain of Survival poster
SCA Warning Signs and Risk Factors poster
Cardiac Chain of Survival poster (Spanish)
SCA Warning Signs and Risk Factors poster (Spanish)
SCA Information for School Website and Other Correspondence
How Educators Can Protect Young Hearts
At the Doctor’s Office
Keep Your Heart in the Game
Overviews new SCA prevention protocol for sports programs.
What To Do In A Cardiac Emergency
Watch how bystander CPR and AED saves lives (also in Spanish).
You CAN Save a Life
Bystander intervention is the only way to increase the chance of survival for a Sudden Cardiac Arrest victim.
The Most Important Ask
Know the Warning Signs and Risk Factors
Don’t Just Check the Box
Standard exams don’t check for heart conditions that put youth at risk.
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