Saving kids from sudden death!

August 31, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Sudden cardiac arrest claims the lives of hundreds of children each year, and yet standard sports physicals miss 96 percent of those at risk.

We'll show you what to look out for and an easy way to help save kids' lives.

Dave and Kim Waltman remember their daughter Taylor being silly. But just ten days before her thirteenth birthday, she collapsed during soccer practice.

"I remember she gave me a look, like I don't want to run this lap," Dave and Kim Waltman, told Ivanhoe.

While she never showed signs of a heart problem, Taylor died of sudden cardiac arrest.

"That night we all had to go up to the hospital. We were there all night. Worst night of our lives," Dave and Kim Waltman explained.

Like Taylor, not all kids at risk will have obvious symptoms, but Doctor Jane Crosson says there are things to watch out for, like family history.

"We always say, any sudden death under 35, have the immediate relatives screened for these genetic conditions that can cause sudden death," Jane Crosson, M.D., director of pediatric electrophysiology at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, explained.

She says even unexplained car accidents or drowning cases where a family member may have passed out before they passed away need to be looked at.

"In people that died swimming, 28% or 29% had a genetic abnormality that wasn't previously recognized," Dr. Crosson explained.

Other red flags include-kids complaining of chest pain while exercising or playing, and fainting or passing out during an activity. While EKGs can detect about 60 percent of those at risk, Doctor Crosson says schools need these defibrillators to help the other 40 percent of kids who go undetected.

After the Waltman's had their family tested they learned, like Taylor, their younger daughter Shelby had a heart problem too.

"Of course we worry about her every day, but we just have faith that they can treat it," Dave and Kim Waltman said.

And they have faith their story could save children from what killed their daughter.

If detected and treated early, kids with heart conditions can go on to lead normal lives. When it comes to automatic extended defibrillators or AEDs, every second counts. Survival rates after a cardiac event can drop 10-percent every minute without an AED.

For more information, contact:

Ekaterina Pesheva
Johns Hopkins Children's Center
(410) 502-9433 cell
epeshev1@jhmi.edu


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