LOWER ALLEN TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) — The fall sports season is almost here and kids are starting to get back on the field for practice And advocates say that makes this the perfect time to remind student-athletes and their families about the signs and symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest.
Sudden cardiac arrest is the number one killer of student-athletes in the U.S.
After losing their daughter, one Midstate family has made preventing those deaths their full-time mission.
“Tragically, every hour of every day we’re losing a young child to sudden cardiac arrest,” said Julie Walker, executive director of the Peyton Walker Foundation.
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That’s how Walker lost her daughter Peyton almost eight years ago, who was at the time a college sophomore.
“All too often it’s because of an undetected, undiagnosed heart issue that was found in the kids. That’s why we worked relentlessly last year to have Peyton’s Law passed,” Walker said.
That law requires information on PIAA forms about sudden cardiac arrest and the importance of asking for an EKG as part of a sports physical.
“When you get into practice, it’s truly monitoring, identifying, educating our coaches on the signs and symptoms and making sure that they’re aware and then having those daily conversations and just continuing to educate, learn and grow,” said Scott Acri, head football coach of Middletown Area High School.
Walker says kids are more likely to have problems in practice than at games.
“When kids are back out on the field, are they feeling lightheaded? Are they having any palpitations in their heart? Is there chest pain or pressure? And the number one sign that there could be an issue is passing out,” Walker said.
Since 2014, the Peyton Walker Foundation has donated more than 200 AEDs throughout Central Pa.
“We have AED machines in the nurse’s office, in the gymnasium, down at the football stadium, with the trainers,” said Kurt Condo, guidance counselor and head football coach of Juniata High School.
And to those in charge of placing those AEDs, whether an athletic director or a coach, “Making sure the AED is available and accessible during all practices and games is absolutely critical,” Walker said.
Walker says everyone should learn how to do CPR and when you’re at practice or at a game, make sure you know where an AED is located.