Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) can affect any seemingly healthy student.
The University of Michigan believes that the best course of action to combat sudden cardiac arrest is for health care providers to:
- Develop and implement screening programs that will identify students at risk for a cardiac condition
- Promote emergency response programs that will help school faculty and staff respond to a cardiac arrest
Public sudden cardiac arrest screening programs are a matter of much debate. They have some downsides in that they are not really feasible to do in all high school athletes in the US and there can be a significant number of "false positive" test results that require significant additional testing. That is not to say that the screenings are necessarily a bad thing for people who have access to them.
At the U-M, we recommend that parents partner with their pediatricians and use the MHSAA questionnaire to evaluate their child to determine their need for a more detailed cardiac evaluation. There are some people who clearly should have additional cardiac testing and this is a resource to help determine who NEEDS to have such a screening, as opposed to who would LIKE to have such a screening.
It is important to remember that these screening programs are not a substitute for an evaluation by the child’s primary care provider. Therefore, the University of Michigan is developing programs to work with primary care providers to:
- Educate them regarding how to identify children that need a more extensive cardiac evaluation;
- Provide consultative support as to clinical findings, symptoms or family history that might merit additional testing;
- Ensure prompt access to cardiac evaluation and testing for those children that need them.
We anticipate that this will allow us to impact a greater number of children than we would be able to with a mass screening program. We will also be working with the schools to make sure that they are prepared for a medical emergency, since not all children will undergo an extensive cardiac evaluation and even the most comprehensive cardiac evaluation will fail to identify all children at risk for a sudden cardiac event.
In summary, talk with your primary care physician about whether a cardiac evaluation is appropriate for your child. If you don’t currently have a primary care physician, we have U-M physicians available in communities all over Southeast Michigan for your convenience. Learn more about our Pediatric Primary Care Providers or call 1-877-475-MOTT to speak with one of our patient care advisors.