Should Your Student Athlete Get A Heart Screening Before Game Day?

Sudden Cardiac
Posted at 11:45 AM, Nov 13, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-13 06:57:10-05

Tallahassee, FL (#WTXLdigital) -- After the death of a teammate during high school practice, one group of friends comes together to create awareness for sudden cardiac arrest, a killer of many young athletes.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, sudden cardiac arrest, or SCA,  is when the heart beats with an irregular rhythm and it can happen to even those who appear healthy.

Most people who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest die within minutes of it occurring.

Dr. Khairallah, a cardiologist at Southern Medical Group, describes those with SCA, "They are healthy. They don't have any symptoms. Sometimes they present with a fainting spell... but unfortunately the first presentation is death".

Quick use of a defibrillator can be lifesaving in the case of SCA, which is why having access to AEDs (automated external defirillators) is so important.

One of the only ways to stop sudden cardiac arrest is through detection and prevention.

Dr. Khairallah says that EKG heart screenings can help detect many irregularities in the heart, including SCA.

He said young athletes are often at risk and recommends that all athletes at all levels get tested.

Unfortunately Rafe Maccarone had not been screened and died at a high school soccer practice in 2007 from sudden cardiac arrest.

His friends say the school's AED was locked inside the gym during the practice.

After the tragic day, Rafe's friends formed Who We Play For, a non-profit group fighting to make heart screenings and AEDs more available.

They are focused on bringing heart awareness to middle and high school level athletes.

Who We Play For is currently working towards hosting heart screenings in all Leon County Schools.

To get involved or find out more, click here.

There will be a community heart screening on November 15h. Find out more information here.