"The immense pain of losing a child to an undetected heart condition, something that is preventable, is beyond description. What parent wouldn't prevent their childs death if they could?"
Mother of Travis Mendoza who died of sudden cardiac arrest at age 14
The ProblemHeart disease. Heart conditions. Heart-related deaths. When we hear these words, often they are associated with the elderly or the infirmed. It seems unnatural to think that young, vibrant kids living health-conscious and active lives can unknowingly have life-threatening heart conditions. But tragically, and all too often, unsuspecting young people are falling victim to sudden cardiac death.
Over 450,000 Americans collapse and die of sudden cardiac death each year and an alarming number of these deaths are young people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sudden cardiac deaths of people between the ages of 15-34 have increased by 10 percent in the last decade.
In 1996 the American Heart Association released guidelines recommending preparticipation screenings of young athletes. Years later many high schools and colleges have not adequately addressed these guidelines. Each year hundreds of thousands of young people are cleared to participate in sports programs after inadequate or limited physical exams. For a number of these young individuals sudden death may be the result.
Echocardiograms (ultrasound images of the heart) and Electrocardiograms (EKG's) are the best ways to detect heart abnormalities but typically cost between $800 and $1500. Unfortunately, these costs are often not covered by insurance plans due to the symptom-free nature of many heart abnormalities. As these costs are prohibitive for many families, they are denied access to a potentially life-saving means of protecting their children.
Sudden and unexpected deaths resulting from sudden cardiac arrest claims far too many young people each year. The real tragedy is that with a simple screening, many of these deaths could have been prevented.