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A Silent Killer in the Family

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Mom•Logic sheds light on Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome. What is it and how can it be prevented?

Each year, hundreds of children and under-50 adults die suddenly and unexpectedly due to cardiac arrhythmias. It is shocking and devastating when it happens to a family. In fact, our own Mom•Logic intern lost her 45-year-old mother several weeks ago to this frightening condition. Click on the video to hear her personal story.

Many Moms we know had never heard about SADS, but it is possible to diagnose it and to treat it. Dr. Susan Etheridge, a pediatric electrophysiologist (a cardiologist who specializes in the electrical system of the heart) from Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah told us the warning signs of SADS and how to prevent it from being fatal.

The SADS Awareness Foundation reports that as many as 12 in every 5,000 individuals are genetically predisposed to this type of heart condition.

Dr. Etheridge says it's important for people to know:

•SADS can be diagnosed by your physician (and/or a cardiologist) and treated (usually with medication).
•Those diagnosed with the condition can lead normal, productive lives.
•Most sudden cardiac deaths in children are hereditary, so screening is key.
•There are simple tests to determine the risk.
•Cardiac arrhythmia is often misdiagnosed as sudden drowning if it happens while someone is in water, or
as seizures. That's because when cardiac arrhythmia happens, there's no pulse and no blood or oxygen gets to the brain, which can cause a seizure.

What are the warning signs?
•Family history of unexpected, unexplained sudden death in a young person (under 40), including sudden drowning and single car accidents.
•Fainting (syncope) or seizures during exercise (or right after exercise), excitement or being startled.
•Consistent or unusual chest pain and/or shortness of breath during exercise.

What can the general public do to help?
•People need to know CPR.
•They should also know how to use an AED (Automated External Defibrillator), which is a life-saving machine that can be used by almost anyone. It's important for people to know that AEDs exist in many public places, including shopping malls, airports, ambulances, all hospitals, government buildings, some schools, sports arenas, churches and many health clubs.
•It's easy, and if you can defibrillate victims quickly, they could not only be revived, but also saved from brain damage that can be caused by lack of blood supply and oxygen.
•People can be trained to use an AED through the Red Cross or the American Heart Association.

Are you or your child at risk of SADS? Complete the risk assessment form at and bring it to your doctor. Ask your school or child’s sports association to make this questionnaire mandatory for all kids before they participate in any active sport. It could save a family from tragedy.

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1 comments so far | Post a comment now
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