Sunday, February 25, 2007

Protecting Kids from Sudden Cardiac Death

More sadeness reigned down on the Denver Broncos as they lost another young athlete, Darien Nash, to sudden death. It is interesting to note that his younger brother had a heart ailment that required a transplant the year before. Whether it as an idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (enlarged weakened heart muscle) or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (thickened, stiff heart muscle), these ailments can be transmitted in an autosomal dominant fashion (50% of offspring). The mother is absolutely right in insisting that her daughter be tested for the potential of carrying a gene that may have caused Darien Nash's death.
After one son’s death and a heart ailment that caused another son to require a transplant last year, Kim Nash is taking her daughter to a cardiologist next week.

“My son,” she told The Associated Press amid sobs, “is giving me the strength right now to talk.”

Damien Nash collapsed in his suburban St. Louis home after returning by limousine with his wife, Judy Nash, and their daughter from a game at his high school to benefit The Darris Nash Find a Heart Foundation. The organization raises money for heart transplant research.
How very ironic and very sad.

As if pre-ordained, this segment aired on MSNBC Nightly News the very same day that Darien Nash died - a story about another mother, Rachel Moyer, simarly affected after the death of her son, age 15, collapsed after a basketball game.

But this story has an important message. Ms. Moyer has helped organize a non-profit foundation, Parent Heart Watch, which brings together the collective efforts of families who have lost children to sudden death to raise funds to provide automatic external defibrillators for high schools. More important, they lobby Congress to assure defibrillators are available in our kids' schools across America. Amazingly, only 8 of 50 states (Texas, Illinois, Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York and Ohio) have enacted these laws, even though 20% of sudden deaths occur to people under 21 years of age. Parent Heart Watch is pushing for an AED in every elementary, middle school and high school in America.

So support this legislation in your state or around the globe. If one life is saved, especially if it's a child, then it makes that single $2000 investment for an automatic external defibrillator seem totally worthwhile.



Anonymous said...

is that true? 20% of sudden deaths occur to people under 21?
i wonder how they arrived at the denominator?

DrWes said...

Anony - Not sure, but it may have come from the article by Huikuri et al. NEJM 345 (20): 1473, Figure 2 November 15, 2001 which shows 5% of sudden death comes from uncommon causes (electrical ion channel, congenital, valvular heart disease) and 15% of sudden death comes from hypertrophic or dilated cardiomyopathies... the remainder come from ischemic causes...