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Protecting Student-Athletes From Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Protecting Student-Athletes From Sudden Cardiac Arrest

SMH & ACSP partner for Cardiac Athletic Screening for Adolescents

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. One minute, your child is running up the field, dribbling down the court or just playing with their friends in the backyard; the next, they’re collapsed and unresponsive on the ground. It happened without warning.

That’s why it’s called Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

Nearly 2,000 young, seemingly healthy people under age 25 in the United States die from Sudden Cardiac Arrest each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are no visible warnings and, for the vast majority of children affected, cardiac arrest is their first symptom. “But about 90% of them can be prevented with a simple cardiac screening,” says Miranda Sturgeon, Sarasota Memorial Health Care System’s Manager of Cardiovascular Diagnostics.

That’s why Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Specialty Physicians team up each year to present Cardiac Athletic Screening for Adolescents, or CASA, as an opportunity for parents to have children ages 12-18 evaluated for risk of sudden cardiac arrest, free of charge, and to schedule whatever follow-up care they may need.

“This is a free opportunity to have a one-on-one experience with an amazing pediatric cardiologist,” says Sturgeon. “To get that peace of mind knowing your child is safe, that they’re good to go on the field.” It’s a cause close to Sturgeon’s heart, especially after seeing her nephew lose a friend to sudden cardiac arrest at only age 13.

“No parent should experience that,” she says. “No child should have that happen to them.”

Register For An Appointment Today!

Appointments are not required but are strongly suggested and will significantly reduce your wait time and speed up the process.

Call (941) 917-1190 to schedule.

What Does A Cardiac Screening Appointment Look Like?

Fast, painless and non-invasive. No worries about needles or probes.

The screening actually begins when you register your child for an appointment, at which point you will receive the official American Heart Association’s 14-point questionnaire to fill out, covering aspects of your family history and your child’s medical history.

Then it’s a simple matter of a blood pressure test and an electrocardiogram, or EKG, which reads the electric signals from the heart and can reveal possible problems or anomalies.

Armed with all this data—medical history, blood pressure and EKG results—a pediatric cardiologist can spot common risk factors for sudden cardiac arrest, such as arrhythmias, coronary artery disease, or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. If there are any red flags, the cardiologist can approve a limited echocardiogram right there to further investigate the matter or provide an immediate reference for necessary follow-up care.

“And this should only take about 15 minutes,” says Sturgeon. “Really quick, really easy and really important.”

Cesar’s Story

When Cesar Catalan Jr. started experiencing heart pains after runs with the Track & Field team, his family was concerned. And after getting a free cardiac screening provided by Sarasota Memorial and John's Hopkins All Children's Hospital, they learned that Cesar had a rare, but treatable, heart defect. To hear more, watch the video below.

When and Where Are This Year’s CASA Events?

There are two free cardiac screening events this year.

Call to schedule your appointment today: (941) 917-1190.


Written by Sarasota Memorial copywriter Philip Lederer, MA, who crafts a variety of external communications for the healthcare system. SMH’s in-house wordsmith, Lederer earned his Master’s degree in Public Administration and Political Philosophy from Morehead State University, Ky, and wishes he were a hobbit.

Posted: Aug 15, 2023,
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