Madden Measure To Promote Cardiac Screenings For Student Athletes Clears Assembly Education Committee

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 was unanimously approved today by the Assembly Education Committee.

“Gone are the days when older and obese people are the only ones affected by heart problems,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester, who is a member of the Senate Health, Human Services Committee. “Sudden Cardiac Death is real and it is attacking our young people at an alarming rate. This bill would help inform parents and school coaches about the conditions that can lead to sudden cardiac death so that they can work with their children and young athletes to help them live long, healthy lives.

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’s bill, S-332, would require the Department of Education to work with the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services and the American Heart Association 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.

This measure was unanimously approved by the Senate on March 13, 2006.

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