THE HCMA SAYS PLAYING SPORTS SHOULD HAVE ENHANCED REGGIE GARRETT’S LIFE; NOT ENDED IT
The tragic news of West Orange-Stark High School’s star quarterback who suffered sudden death on the playing field, is a vital reminder to know the warning signs of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and Sudden Cardiac Arrest
HIBERNIA, N.J., (September 20, 2010) – Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a genetic disease which results in a thickening of the heart muscle, is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in children and young adults. It accounts for 40 percent of all deaths on athletic playing fields across the country.
Estimated to affect one in 500 Americans, HCM can be detected and treated allowing patients to live long lives.
“Although the exact cause of Reggie Garrett’s death still not known, simply knowing the warning signs of SCA and HCM and having action plans in place, can prevent devastating results,” said Lisa Salberg, founder and CEO of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association (www.4hcm.org), a national resource and support center for HCM patients and their families and the medical community at large.
Salberg, who has HCM, has been able to trace a history of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in her family for at least four generations.
SCA and HCM warning signs can include palpitations, a racing heart, dizziness, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, fainting and chest discomfort, but symptoms do not always appear.
HCM usually surfaces during or after adolescence and is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in people under the age of 45. Athletes comprise 20 percent of all HCM-related deaths in the U.S annually. Young black males are particularly at risk, accounting for about half of all HCM sudden cardiac deaths in athletes annually.
“Improving completion and accuracy of pre-participation screening forms and conducting ECGs (electrocardiograms) and cardiac evaluations on properly selected children will reduce SCA and can lead to early detection of HCM,” Salberg said.
“The more you know your family history, the easier it will be to trace incidents of SCA,” said Salberg. “I also encourage parents to make sure their children are being honest with them about their health issues. Sometimes children will ignore or not report SCA or HCM symptoms if they think that it will prevent them from participating in organized school sports.”
All schools and athletic facilities should have an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and a staff that is trained how to use it. The staff should also know how to administer compression-only CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation).
“Most people find their way to me and the HCMA too late to save the life of a loved one,” Salberg said. “Most heartbreaking is when I speak with moms and dads who lose seemingly healthy young children or teens only to find the death was, in fact, preventable.”
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About the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association (HCMA)
Founded in 1996 by Lisa Salberg, the HCMA is a not-for-profit 501(c) (3) organization that provides comprehensive information about Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a genetic disease that causes a thickening of the heart muscle. The HCMA provides support and advocacy for HCM patients and their families and medical providers to help prevent untimely deaths and advance global understanding about this incurable disease. For more information, visit www.4hcm.org or call 973-983-7429.