One of the biggest misconceptions about sudden cardiac death in youth is that “it just happens” and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. The truth is that sudden cardiac death IS preventable—but that doesn’t happen by chance.
By Taking the Prevention Promise, you’re declaring that you want to be prepared to prevent sudden cardiac arrest from taking a young life. As a prevention champion, you’ll stay informed about this national education movement and use the resources in our 5 To Stay Alive Toolkit to protect your kids and your community’s youth.
5 To Stay Alive
The first step in prevention is to determine any risk factors already present in your child’s life. Evaluate your family’s heart history and assess your child for warning signs and unrecognized symptoms of a potential heart condition. It’s important to involve your child in this assessment. Don’t just assume you know answer to the question simply because your child never mentioned possible symptoms—they may be living with a chronic condition they simply don’t recognize as unusual.
Whether risk factors are apparent or not, take time to educate yourself about sudden cardiac arrest and how it differs from a heart attack.
It’s a fact that primary and secondary sudden cardiac arrest prevention strategies save lives. Heart screenings are not a part of standard check-ups or pre-participation sports physicals, even though many heart conditions have no or unrecognized warning signs. In fact, the first symptom could be death. Getting your child’s heart screened is a quick, painless and noninvasive assessment that can reveal potential problems. Find a screening provided in your community, or ask your doctor to order one.
Everyone should know the Cardiac Chain of Survival. It’s a simple, step-by-step guide to save a life. Because every minute counts for a sudden cardiac arrest victim, and emergency responders can be up to 12 minutes away, taking immediate action will be the difference between life and death.
The only way we can truly eliminate preventable deaths from sudden cardiac arrest is if each of us champions the cause in our community. You can talk to your school or school district about acquiring more AEDs, and being sure the AEDs they have are unlocked and accessible during school events. Compel your school, team, camp, childcare center and any other youth-focused organization to implement a Cardiac Emergency Response Plan. Advocate for CPR training for students, educators, athletic personnel and anyone involved with youth.
Then, go viral! Use your online email chains, newsletters, blogs, web pages and social media portals to post and share about how everyone can become a sudden cardiac arrest prevention champion.
Coaches, camp counselors, daycare providers and many others have a front seat to what’s happening with your child during daily physical activity. Be sure to talk to them about potential warning signs or risk factors you’ve discovered in your child, or any they’ve observed. For example, after a season of training, your child should not be continually out of breath. Ask if an AED is present — on the field during practices and games, near the playground, or anywhere else kids congregate, and if not, what’s the gameplan on how to get one. Advocate for these youth leaders to be trained in the potential warning signs of SCA and in the cardiac chain of survival.
Because sudden cardiac arrest prevention is not a standard part of youth health care, it’s important to talk to your health care provider about potential warning signs and risk factors, as well as getting a baseline heart screening for your child whether risk factors are present or not—especially if he or she is active. Take the cardiac questionnaire to your appointment to start the conversation. International guidelines recommend a cardiac screening every other year through age 25 as heart conditions can develop or change as young hearts grow.
Connect key people, schools, teams, clubs, churches, medical offices and other organizations in your community to our mission by distributing educational materials. For a complete list of educational materials, including magnets, clipboards brochures, flyers, posters, early detection postcards and public service announcements, click here.
For relevant research and the latest studies on sudden cardiac arrest in youth, click here
Sign up to receive newsletters, alerts, campaign information and news stories that you can use to champion sudden cardiac arrest prevention in your community.
Check the status of SCA prevention legislation in your state and learn what others have done to pass laws that protect young hearts.
Parent Heart Watch’s annual event where parents of youth lost to sudden cardiac arrest, survivors, allied health professionals and other prevention advocates meet to get the latest news, share ideas and become empowered to champion SCA prevention in their community.
Anyone can champion SCA prevention! Check out how to become a PHW friend!
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