How Coaches Can Help

How Coaches Can Help Prevent SCA in Young Athletes

Coaches can help save the lives of young athletes at risk for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

What Can You Do? 

There are two simple things coaches can do to help prevent SCA in young athletes:

  • Know the SCA risk factors. If you become aware of an athlete who has any of the risk factors listed below, recommend cardiac testing.

SCA Risk Factors

  • Family history of unexpected, unexplained sudden death in a young person
  • Fainting (syncope) or seizure during exercise, excitement or when startled
  • Consistent or unusual chest pain and/or shortness of breath during exercise

About Cardiac Testing

If a student athlete displays any of the risk factors for SCA, refer them to a doctor for cardiac testing. Cardiac testing has the potential to identify hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and save athletes from sudden cardiac death. HCM—a disease that causes thickening of the heart muscle—is the leading cardiovascular cause of SCD (36%) in young athletes.1

Cardiac testing often includes two simple tests:

  • An electrocardiogram (ECG) measures electrical activity in the heart. It has the potential to detect heart conditions that account for up to 60% of sudden deaths in young competitive athletes.2
  • An echocardiogram (echo), an ultrasound of the heart, takes moving pictures of the heart.

In one long-term study, screening athletes with cardiac testing reduced the number of sudden cardiac deaths by 89%.3

Related Resources

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More resources

This information is not a substitute for medical care. Please consult a doctor or health care provider.

School Programs to Prevent SCA

Learn how to get an AED for your school and more from the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation (SCAF).

Visit SCAF now

Team Up to Save Athletes' Lives

Use our coaches' guide to learn more about and how to help prevent SCA in young athletes.

Download SCA guide now

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