Are you ready to protect your young hearts? Test your knowledge of SCA and preparedness to save a life.

Studies show that the general public is confused about what Sudden Cardiac Arrest is, much less that it can be prevented. But youth, parents, educators, sports officials and medical practitioners alike continue to miss warning signs and risk factors that put youth at risk. What’s more, communities do not realize that survival of an SCA victim depends on more than calling 911, so they’re not prepared to respond to a cardiac emergency.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is NOT a heart attack.
A heart attack is a “plumbing” problem, as blood flow gets blocked, and SCA is caused by a heart abnormality you’re born with, and possibly inherited, or can develop as young hearts grow. With 49 percent of SCA victims being identified with a significant family heart history, it’s critical to research your family history and report it to your medical practitioner—especially since studies also show that only 15 percent of health histories are updated annually. A lot can happen in a year to your immediate and extended family members, so histories must be current to give practitioners the best insight into your youth. What is SCA?

Sudden Cardiac Arrest CAN happen at any age.
While SCA is among the leading causes of death in the U.S. with upwards of 350,000 stricken, what parents don’t know is that 1 in 300 youth has an undetected heart condition that puts them at risk, which is why SCA is the #1 killer of student athletes and the leading cause of death on school campuses.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest CAN happen in seemingly healthy youth.
Medical practitioners and parents alike miss warning signs and risk factors that put youth at risk. Many times symptoms go unrecognized or unreported, as youth don’t alert an adult, and adults don’t ask specific questions. One study reported that in retrospect parents reported 72 percent of youth stricken had a warning sign—they just didn’t recognize it as life threatening. And even when symptoms were reported, in up to 60 percent of cardiac arrests preceded by symptoms, a cardiac diagnosis was not considered.

A stethoscope used at well-child exams and PPE is NOT a comprehensive assessment of a young heart.
Stethoscopes cannot detect the majority of conditions that put youth at risk for SCA. Studies repeatedly show that a physical and history alone do not detect as many heart conditions as when an ECG is included. Anyone can get an ECG—it’s often covered by insurance especially if warning signs and family risk factors are present. Otherwise, ECGs often cost as much as a new pair of sneakers.

Fainting IS the number one sign of a potential heart condition.
While fainting is often attributed to heat, dehydration or low blood sugar, medical best practice recommends that all youth who faint be checked out by a licensed physician.

If your youth has never complained about any of the possible warning signs, THEY COULD STILL BE experiencing them.
If they were born with this condition, the warning signs they may be feeling are their “normal.”

Athletes who faint or pass out CANNOT just be given water or rest and then can continue to play.
Given fainting is the #1 warning sign of a potential heart condition, all youth must be recleared by a licensed physician before returning to play.

Youth often don’t report warning signs because they don’t want look like they’re not keeping up.
Youth often don’t report warning signs because they don’t want to lose play time, don’t want to look like they can’t keep up, or think they just need to train harder. We need to educate and empower youth to speak up and be their own heart health advocate. Here are some ideas how.

For youth living with a heart condition most of their life, any symptoms they experience might seem normal because they’ve always felt that way.
They’re not aware what they’re feeling could indicate a serious problem, and often times they are not asked about how they’re feeling. Parents and adults working with youth need to proactively engage youth in dialogue about specific warning signs.

Take a Cardiac Risk Assessment With Your Youth

When a person has a Sudden Cardiac Arrest, their heart HAS stopped.
That’s why it’s critical to immediately respond by calling 911, starting hands-only CPR and using an onsite AED within three minutes of collapse. Every minute’s delay in bystander emergency intervention decreases their chance of survival by 10 percent. Don’t let gasping, ragged breaths or seizure-like activity fool you into thinking the victim is breathing—those are all side affects of a heart that has stopped beating.

CPR alone can revive a person in Sudden Cardiac Arrest.
The only way to restart a heart that has stopped is to shock it with an automated external defibrillator (AED). But, until an AED can be retrieved, either onsite or when EMS arrives, CPR can be a bridge to life as it keeps blood and oxygen circulating to vital organs. The new standard is hands-only CPR—pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest, about 2-inch compressions, about 100 compressions per minute. Think of the beat to Stayin’ Alive and match your compressions to the beat. And remember—CPR can triple a victim’s chance of survival. Learn CPR at home.

A shock from an AED IS the only way to restart a heart that has stopped beating.
When a heart has stopped, only defibrillation can restore a normal heart beat. While CPR can be a bridge to life, keeping blood and oxygen pumping through the body, it does not restart the heart. That’s why it’s critical for bystanders to find the nearest AED, turn it on and follow the audio directions. 911 operators can also talk bystanders through the Cardiac Chain of Survival.

EMS will NOT always arrive in time to assist with a cardiac emergency so bystanders should wait for their guidance.
While EMS is an incredible life-saving service in our country, national averages for arrival can be six to 13 minutes - especially in rural areas. While that seems quick, when a person’s heart has stopped, they only have minutes to be revived. Having a Cardiac Emergency Response Plan in place empowers bystanders to take immediate action after calling 911 to use hands-only CPR and an onsite AED to save the victim’s life. Learn to Use An AED

Find free fact sheets and videos in our SCA Prevention Toolkit to help you and your community be prepared for a cardiac emergency.