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Sudden Cardiac Arrest is uncommon in young people. In the general population, the chance of SCA is highest in people with known angina, a history of heart attacks, cholesterol problems, or furred arteries. However, because these conditions are rare in the under 35’s, sudden cardiac arrest in the young tends to be caused by other diseases.
Sudden arrhythmic death syndrome or SADS, is caused by abnormalities in the heart rhythm that can cause sudden death in young people who appear to be healthy. This condition can usually be treated, but only if diagnosed. There are some warning signs such as a family history of unexplained death under the age of 40, problems during exercise like fainting or seizures, constant or unusual chest pain, and shortness of breath during exercise. It may be that cardiac arrest is the first indication that there is a problem.
Sometime this condition can be passed down form parent to child; the child has a 50% chance of inheriting the condition. It is estimated that over half of the 4000 SADS deaths each year concerning children, teens, or young adults, had at least one of those warning signs.
Due to a number of factors it is difficult to know the exact numbers of people affected by sudden cardiac arrest in the under 35 age group. However, there are factors that we know: SCA occurs in approximately 3 in 100,000 12-35 year olds competing regularly in sports; competing regularly in sport increases your chance of cardiac arrest by nearly 3-fold; screening for cardiac conditions with a medical consultation and an ECG significantly reduces rates of SCA in the young; prompt resuscitation with CPR and defibrillation improves outcomes significantly; SCA in the young is undoubtedly more difficult for families, friends and communities to adjust to than when it affects the older populations; finally, some estimates suggest that SCA occurs in approximately 10 people under the age of 35 every week in the UK.
270 children die due to sudden cardiac arrest at school each year and this shows the importance of training and AED units in our schools. There are many campaigns to increase awareness and drive down this figure like the Oliver King Foundation and Hand on Heart to name a few. We have put some links on the download section of this course. Any support you can give these charities they would greatly appreciate.
It is important to be aware of this risk and also to work to increase training and the number of AED units in schools. ProTrainings have launched a free online student first aid course for any child at www.studentfirstaid.co.uk. If you can help to spread the word to your local school or club, please get in touch.