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Study prompts new mandate for N.C. high schools
Date:3/9/2009

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. A new study at Wake Forest University School of Medicine reveals that many N.C. high schools are not adequately prepared to handle the immediate medical needs of a student or employee who suffers a sudden cardiac arrest on campus. The findings were used to support a new statewide program to place automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in high schools.

The study, scheduled to appear in the May/June 2009 issue of the North Carolina Medical Journal, evaluated how prepared N.C. high schools were for sudden cardiac arrests (SCA). It found that they lacked concise emergency action plans, needed to increase use of AEDs and coordinate more with local emergency medical services (EMS).

"Since screening for SCA remains mostly ineffective, focusing efforts towards emergency planning offers a concrete way to impact the health of student athletes," said Anna Monroe, M.D., an emergency medicine resident and lead investigator for the study. "With this study, I hope to bring to light the importance of increased preparedness in response to SCA in North Carolina."

During SCA, heart function stops abruptly and without warning. It is usually the result of electrical impulses in the heart becoming rapid or chaotic. These irregular heart rhythms are called arrhythmias, which prevent the heart from pumping blood to the brain and vital organs. In most cases, there are no warning signs or symptoms for SCA, even with the correct pre-participation screenings that athletes must go through.

It is estimated that about one out of every 200,000 high school athletes experiences SCA. However, there is no standardized or mandatory reporting system for SCA incidents in high school athletes. The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research mentions eight football fatalities from the 2006 season and two in 2007 that were attributed to cardiac causes. While statistics show that SCA is relatively rare in high school athlet
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Contact: Jessica Guenzel
jguenzel@wfubmc.edu
336-716-3487
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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