Madden Bill To Promote Heart-Health Awareness In Student Athletes Receives Final Legislative Approval

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Fred H. Madden which would work to increase awareness among parents, athletic coaches and students about sudden cardiac death and its incidence among student athletes received unanimous final legislative approval today by the Senate.

“Heart disease can affect anyone regardless of age, weight or activity level,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester, who is a member of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “Increased awareness and early detection are key when dealing with heart problems, and by promoting both we would be working to prevent further fatalities.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics defines cardiac death as a nonviolent occurrence when a seemingly healthy person’s heart stops unexpectedly, with no health warning signs. In children, sudden cardiac death usually occurs as a result of an underlying cardiac condition like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a genetic condition which causes a thickening of the heart wall, Senator Madden said.

Senator Madden’s bill, S-332, would require the Department of Education to work with the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics to create a pamphlet about sudden cardiac death. The pamphlet would contain a clear explanation of sudden cardiac death, statistics of cases among student athletes, warning signs and available screening options. The literature would be distributed to local school districts who would, in turn, send the pamphlets to all parents and guardians whose children participate in interscholastic sports.

Senator Madden said although screening technology exists, it is unable to identify all of the possible cardiovascular conditions that can lead to sudden cardiac death, which is why it is imperative for parents to be aware of possible conditions.

“Parents should also make sure that they are aware of their family history and take their children for regular sports physicals,” Senator Madden said.

This bill was initially approved by the Senate on March 13, 2006. A March 15 Assembly vote adopted an amendment to add the American Academy of Pediatrics as one of the entities to be consulted by the Commissioner for the development of the pamphlet.

The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk where his signature would make it State law.

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