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Preparing for a Cardiac Emergency

Are you prepared for a cardiac emergency?

About 350,000 sudden cardiac deaths occur in the U.S. each year, equal to almost 1,000 every day. At least 600 to 1,000 of these annual deaths occur in children and adolescents.

On a normal day, about 20 percent of a community is in its schools. This includes students, teachers, staff and family members. A focused effort on cardiac arrest preparedness in schools is critical to protecting our children and others.

Screening for health problems is essential to preventing cardiac emergencies. The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association requires all children to complete a pre-participation exam before sports practices or games. A record of that exam must remain on file with the school's principal. The exam determines if a student athlete is physically capable of certain exercise, and may uncover a need for more tests.

Athletes are not the only ones at risk. Many non-athletes may also have underlying heart conditions. Pediatric heart disease may include easily missed warning signs and symptoms. This is why parents, teachers and coaches must remain aware of and recognize the following:

  • Fainting or near-fainting during or after exercise, emotion or surprise
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Extreme exercise-related fatigue
  • Extreme shortness of breath associated with exercise
  • Discomfort, pain, or pressure in chest during or after exercise
  • Skipping or racing heartbeats
  • High blood pressure
  • Congenital heart abnormality
  • Family history of sudden death prior to the age of 50 or known heart abnormalities

Below, the "Code Blue" team at Smyrna High School conducts their annual CPR-AED drill with Project ADAM Middle Tennessee.

The "Code Blue" team at Smyrna High School conducts their annual CPR-AED drill