Skip to main content

In Focus

What You Should Know About Sudden Cardiac Arrest

By February 13, 2019June 24th, 2022Community Health
Darren and Phyllis Sudman

The Sudmans started Simon’s Heart so that no other parent would lose a child to a detectable and treatable heart condition.

The average life of a car is eight years; a refrigerator, seventeen years; and a human life, 76 to 81 years. So, what do all of these things have in common? A motor makes them run.

When our car breaks down, or the fridge stops working, we get it inspected immediately. Hopefully, it gets fixed. If it can’t be fixed, we get a new one, because if the original one didn’t last, there’s no way we’re buying the same make and model! We read reviews and talk to friends. We can be very mindful about appliances. Unfortunately, we don’t pay as much attention to our hearts.

Are You Paying Attention to the Warning Signs?

Fainting (also known as syncope) is the human version of a “break down.” However, after fainting, many people skip the inspection. Instead, the response goes something like this: “Oh no! Are you OK? You must have overdone it. Come here and sit down. Drink this. Get some rest. You’ll be fine.”

Now, let’s say someone in your family, under the age of 50, dies suddenly and unexpectedly. After mourning, we should ask questions. We should find experts and do research like we do when shopping for a new vehicle or appliance.

The Statistics Behind Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Fainting and the sudden and unexplained death of a family member under the age of 50 are primary warning signs of conditions that lead to sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops beating, suddenly and unexpectedly. The person just collapses.

Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death of adults in the United States.[1] It’s also the number one killer of student athletes.[2]

Despite these alarming statistics, fainting and the sudden and unexplained death of a family member under 50 are often dismissed or overlooked. These events should prompt a discussion of your risk factors with your family doctor, and in many instances, trigger an electrocardiogram (ECG). This cheap and non-invasive test evaluates the heart’s rhythm and is able to detect most heart conditions that lead to sudden cardiac arrest and death, particularly in children.

In 2005, my three-month-old son, Simon, went down for a nap and never woke up. Our pediatrician told us to get our hearts checked because “babies don’t die.” Simon’s mom, Phyllis, was diagnosed with a heart condition called Long QT Syndrome. It is an arrhythmia that has been linked to sudden infant death. It is also one of a few conditions that causes student athletes to collapse and die.

Help Raise Awareness

Simon’s Heart is an organization that takes steps to reduce sudden cardiac arrest and death in children by raising awareness of the conditions that lead to sudden cardiac arrest. We provide free heart screenings. We distribute AED devices through our crowdfunding site, GotAED. We promote research by gathering data, de-identifying it, and giving it away to qualified researchers, free of charge. We protect student athletes by advocating for awareness legislation. And we educate the public through partnerships with collegiate and professional sports teams.

There are many ways that we can work together to prevent cardiac arrest in children. But you have to start at home. To celebrate American Heart Month, talk to your kids and review your family history. It’ll keep them off their smartphone for few minutes, and it might just save their life.

[1] cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm
[2] mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sudden-cardiac-arrest/in-depth/sudden-death/art-20047571

Darren Sudman

Darren Sudman is the CEO and cofounder of Simon’s Heart, an organization founded in memory of his three-month-old son, Simon, who died in his sleep from an undetected heart condition. Simon’s Heart raises awareness about the warning signs and conditions that lead to sudden cardiac arrest in children.

2 Comments

  • Felicia Motto says:

    Message: My son had a cardiac Arrest at age 17 He ia alive a nd well today, but we still do not know what caused this.
    We have done genetic studies and many scans and everything comes back fine.
    He had an Atrial Septal Defect repaired at age 16, doctors do not feel this had anything to do with his Cardiac Arrest.
    I still am not convinced of that. Do you have any information that could be helpfull for our situation.
    Thank You for your time.
    Felicia Motto

  • IBX Team says:

    Felicia, we are happy to hear your son is doing well today. Please don’t hesitate to contact Simons Heart with your questions: https://simonsheart.org/contact/ Sincerely, Maureen G.