PaperTexture - Warning Signs and Risk Factors

Warning Signs and Risk Factors

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Youth has an undetected heart condition

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Youth SCA victims had at least one warning sign that was not recognized

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SCA victims have a significant family heart history

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of SCAs preceded by symptoms where a cardiac issue was not considered

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Learn to recognize warning signs and risk factors for SCA

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Take a cardiac risk assessment and share with your practitioner

Don’t Just Check the Box

Sudden Cardiac Arrest often has no warning signs. But according to a study published by the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 72% of students who suffered from SCA were reported by their parents to have had at least one cardiovascular symptom before the event. They just didn’t recognize it as life threatening. Don’t just check the box on health history forms and sports clearance packets—check in with your youth, and with adults supervising them, to be sure you know what’s going on in their heart.

Do You Know What’s Going On In Your Child’s Heart?

Warning Signs

  • Fainting (syncope) or seizure during or after physical activity
  • Fainting or seizure resulting from emotional excitement, distress or startle
  • Unexplained fainting or seizures
  • Chest pain or discomfort during or after exertion
  • Racing heartbeat, especially when the body is at rest
  • Unusual shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness during or after physical activity
  • Unusual fatigue or tiredness

Family Risk Factors

  • Family history of heart disease
  • Family history of unexpected death during physical activity or seizure
  • Unexplained death of a seemingly healthy family member under age 50
  • Unexplained near/drowning or car accident of family member

Lifestyle Risk Factors

  • Consumption of energy drinks and other high-caffeine stimulants - learn more
  • Performance-enhancing supplements and diet pills
  • Illegal substances or misuse of prescription drugs
  • Smoking and vaping

How to Take a Cardiac Risk Assessment

The first step in prevention is to determine any risk factors already present in your child’s life.  Don’t just assume you know answer to the question simply because your child never mentioned symptoms, or family heart history was never mentioned. Sometimes kids don’t speak up because they don’t want to be different. Student athletes may worry they will lose playing time. Or, youth may be living with a chronic condition they simply don’t recognize as unusual.

1. Download Cardiac Risk Assessment Form
(English version)
(Spanish version)
2. Talk with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, mom, dad, siblings to get a complete heart history
3. Complete the form with your youth, explaining warning signs and asking them if they’ve experienced symptoms
4. Take the form to your youth’s next checkup, or if the youth is experiencing symptoms, or your doctor is not aware of significant family heart history, make an appointment

While SCA prevention is not always a standard part of youth health care, it should be according to a 2021 American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that all youth should get a heart screening. Be sure your medical provider is following these guidelines.