Exercise-Related Cardiac Arrest Survival Poor in Youth

June 30, 2008

Incidents of exercise-related sudden cardiac arrest in youths in the United States have generally resulted in poor survival during the past seven years, although a trend toward improved survival has developed recently, researchers report in the June issue of Heart Rhythm.

MONDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- Incidents of exercise-related sudden cardiac arrest in youths in the United States have generally resulted in poor survival during the past seven years, although a trend toward improved survival has developed recently, researchers report in the June issue of Heart Rhythm.

Jonathan A. Drezner, M.D., of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues analyzed media reports from 2000 through 2006 about events of exercise-related sudden death in young people. A national organization called Parent Heart Watch -- a group of parents and families of children affected by sudden cardiac arrest -- conducted the media search over this period.

During this time, 486 cases of exercise-related sudden cardiac arrest were identified in young people in elementary school through college. Most subjects -- 83 percent -- were male. However, females were more likely to survive the event (21 percent versus 9 percent for males). Survival during this period was 11 percent overall, but the data showed a significant trend toward better survival in recent years.

"In this study, 93 percent of sudden cardiac arrest survivors received defibrillation," the authors write. "This study highlights the need for improved reporting systems for juvenile sudden death in the United States. Improved emergency response planning, enhanced recognition of sudden cardiac arrest, and access to early defibrillation through on-site automatic external defibrillator programs are the likely means to improving survival from exercise-related sudden cardiac arrest."

Drezner is on the medical advisory board of Parent Heart Watch and a study co-author is its executive director. Drezner disclosed relationships, some with financial elements, with other organizations related to automatic external defibrillator use, heart screening, and sudden cardiac arrest in athletic settings.

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