Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death in young athletes

It occurs when the heart unexpectedly experiences an electrical malfunction, which leads to an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). The heart abruptly stops beating, immediately ceasing blood flow to the brain and other vital organs. Every three days in the United States, a child suffers SCA. There is no evidence that family history and annual physical examinations alone detect at-risk youth, since many children who experience SCA have been previously screened using these methods, yet their cardiac condition has not been properly identified. The use of a pediatric electrocardiogram (EKG) is critical to help diagnose asymptomatic heart defects, which may not otherwise be evident. SCA can be the first sign of a heart condition, with over half of the children experiencing no symptoms at all prior to fatal cardiac arrest.

Presently, the true incidences, causes and risk factors of Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) in our youth are unknown due to the lack of a mandatory, systematic national registry. A comprehensive database compiled collectively by a panel of experts (such as medical facilities, forensic pathologists, medical examiners, and coroners) is in dire need. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the creation of a pilot program: Sudden Death in the Young Registry. Data collection began in January 2015, one month after Breanna’s passing.

Parent Heart Watch is the national voice protecting our youth from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) and preventable Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD). According to their Medical Advisory Board, as well as other organizations who are pioneering the way to help save young lives from SCA, at least 60% of the heart conditions that cause SCD in the young are identifiable on a baseline test, such as an EKG. By sharing information, educating and advocating for change, Parent Heart Watch supports our Foundation’s mission of promoting the importance of early detection, with heart screenings serving as a significant, life-saving SCA prevention strategy. For more information, please visit www.ParentHeartWatch.org



– American Heart Association (AHA)

– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

– National Institutes of Health (NIH)

– Parent Heart Watch (PHW)

– Pediatric Clinics of North America Journal

– Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association (SCAA)