Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is the number one health-related cause of death in the United States during adolescence. According to the American Heart Association SCA, which results from an undetected and undiagnosed heart abnormality, usually happens before the age of 20, and often strikes healthy teenagers with no prior warning or symptoms.
Over the past few years there have been numerous tragic deaths reported in the news including an 18-year old Teaneck high school student dying in her sleep; a Voorhees Township soccer player dying during a team sleepover; a Red Bank Regional high school basketball player collapsing and dying during a preseason scrimmage, and a 14-year old in the Bronx suddenly collapsing and dying during non-contact football practice. The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that as many as 2,000 children and young adults will die of SCA each year.
These deaths, including a Holmdel high school junior who died while playing lacrosse, have caught the attention of New Jersey’s legislators, including Rep. Frank Pallone (NJ-06), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Andy Kim (NJ-03).
“All too often, we hear about the tragic death of a young person due to sudden cardiac arrest,” Congressman Pallone said. “We must continue to raise awareness of life-threatening heart conditions, including cardiomyopathy, and support healthy practices to prevent heart-related illnesses. I encourage everyone to evaluate their family’s cardiac history and obtain medical screenings to prevent sudden cardiac arrest. I thank Deborah for helping to make sure young adults have the proper screening to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.”
Deborah’s response to this urgent, unmet community need for comprehensive cardiac screenings for teenagers has prompted the hospital to host free SCA screenings several times a year. Over 1,000 students have been screened to date, and approximately 5% have needed additional follow-up and assessment by a pediatric cardiologist.
The free screening includes blood pressure, height and weight; heart auscultation (listening for a murmur); electrocardiogram (ECG); and if needed, an echocardiogram (ultrasonic heart imaging). Confidential results are delivered to each parent (or directly to the student if they are over the age of 18), before they leave and after review by one of Deborah’s board certified cardiologists.
“Preventive health care is important for people of all ages, and the work Deborah is doing makes a real impact on the lives of people in our community,” said Congressman Kim. “I encourage everyone to take advantage of their free screening and to keep themselves and their family healthy.”
The free screening will be held on Saturday, May 11, 2019, from 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. at Deborah Heart and Lung Center, 200 Trenton Road, Browns Mills NJ. Students ages 12-19 can pre-register at DeborahFoundation.org.