40,000,000 Kids Die of Sudden Cardiac Arrest Every Year

What, you don’t believe me?  My figure is only 39,999,960 more than the figure thrown around today by the medical experts called upon to discuss sudden cardiac arrest and student athletes.  As crazy as this sounds, their figure is much more misleading because we expect their figure to be rooted in research, science and fact.  Quite simply, it is not.

There is no registry of deaths attributed to sudden cardiac arrest, so these medical experts are guestimating.  This may be a great way to give your colleagues a look into how many doctors attended a CME, but it is a very destructful way to frame a debate about heart screenings and the lives of our children.  It borders on negligent.

I assume that you’re counting Wes Leonard in your 40.  We learned that he had an enlarged heart.  What about the student that dies in a pool and the media reports it as a drowning?  Do we ignore the fact that 70% of all deaths in aquatic facilities are cardiac related?   How about the baby that dies and the coroner quickly determines the cause of death was SIDS?  Do we ignore the fact that up to 15% of all SIDS deaths are attributed to Long QT Syndrome?  Thank God that we didn’t do this when Simon died.  Phyllis would never have been diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome.  What about a kid that dies in auto accidents when weather, speeding, drugs and alcohol have been ruled out?  You can’t drive very well when you’ve passed from a cardiac event.  Finally, what about the kids that collapse and are resuscitated by CPR and/or an AED?  Fortunately, they didn’t die, but presumably they could have benefited from an ECG exam.

We need to debate the efficacy of ECG screenings for students.  We need to examine the costs.  We need to discuss the fact that for every 100 kids that Simon’s Fund (and other organizations) screen, one discovers a heart condition.  But please, don’t avoid the debate and in the process diminish the life of my son and the many other victims of sudden cardiac arrest with your guestimates.  You’re the expert.  Act like one.

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