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Pediatric Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Most people associate Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) with old age, however, it is important to realize that SCA does not play favorites when it comes to age. SCA is the leading cause of death in the United States and claims over 300,000 lives each year. Out of the 350,000 lives claimed each year, 5,760 are those of children under the age of 18.

There are many different factors that can come into play when determining the reason that caused a child to go into SCA; such as an underlying heart condition, a family history of heart problems, or simply a blow to the chest (condition called commotio cordis) which if hit in just the right spot, can send a completely healthy child into SCA.

With baseball and softball seasons right around the corner, it is important to take safety precautions at your child’s games. Important factors to consider are the following: Is there an ambulance onsite during the sporting event? Are there individuals certified in CPR and First-Aid? And most importantly, is an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) readily available?

What do you think are the most common sports in which sudden death occurs in young athletes in the U.S.? If you guessed football and basketball, then you are right. Two-thirds of all sudden deaths in children occur while playing these sports.

Prevention, of course, is key. Advocacy for heart screenings for young athletes are becoming greater and greater, as is the advocacy and push for all schools to have AEDs. So far, more than 20 states require AED implementation in schools, but that’s not enough.

Is your child’s school armed with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) in case of an cardiac arrest emergency? Does your company, facility, or organization have an AED in place and children that come onsite, but no sight of pediatric pads? These are all important questions to consider and ask yourself.


Each Zoll AED Plus unit automatically comes with a set of adult pads, but it is important to realize that pediatric pads are available as well. Pediatric pads can be used on children of up to 8 years of age or 55 lbs. The difference between adult pads and pediatric pads is the amount of energy that is delivered in the shock to the heart of the victim. The Zoll AED Plus has the capability to automatically recognize the type of pads that are connected and once you connect a set of pads (whether it be adult or pediatric), the AED Plus will say, “Adult pads connected” or “Pediatric pads connected”.

AEDs are made for your typical infrequent rescuer and are easy to use with audio and visual prompts that guide you through the entire rescue. They are foolproof and are made so that even an 8-year-old could use it!

Sudden cardiac arrest claims a life every 90 seconds.

Ask your school’s athletic director where your child can get a heart screening; many schools offer free heart screenings. Schedule a heart screening for your child, find out if your child’s school has an AED onsite and available during athletic events, and make sure that the school has a set of pediatric pads in stock with their AED.

Visit Parent Heart Watch for more information on Sudden Cardiac Arrest in youth.


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