Source: Daily Record
Sudden cardiac death kills more than 3,000 young people each year, many of them athletes. The number one cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Despite being at a higher risk of sudden cardiac arrest, children and young adults with HCM may not display symptoms, which makes this disease all the more dangerous, and the need for better testing to detect this “silent killer” critical.
From the outside, Patrick Awosogba did not look like someone with a heart problem. He was a gifted athlete who played organized baseball from when he was five until his senior year in high school, and appeared to be in pristine physical condition. That is the problem with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It is deceptive and often doesn’t reveal itself until it is too late.
There are countless new stories about students like Awosogba, seemingly healthy and active, who one day collapsed while playing a sport and never got back up. This is apparently becoming an all too familiar scene in schools around the country, where the leading cause of death (on school property) is sudden cardiac arrest.
That is why I sponsored legislation (A-1473) to help recognize and prevent cardiac illnesses in children. The bill would require that an annual medical exam of any person 19 years of age and under include questions that evaluate a child’s family history related to cardiac conditions contained in the Pre-participation Physical Evaluation form, which is used to screen students seeking to participate in school-sponsored athletics.
The bill would also require that health care practitioners administering these exams complete the Student-Athlete Cardiac Screening professional development module, mandated by the Scholastic Student-Athlete Safety Act, to ensure they are adequately trained to identify these conditions. Health care practitioners would have to confirm to their respective medical boards that they completed the module when they apply for renewal of a certification, biennial registration, or renewal of a license.
I have consistently advocated for better policies to help prevent sudden tragic cardiac incidents among young people. In addition to this bill, I have sponsored legislation to develop an information campaign about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and legislation requiring automatic external defibrillators in schools. We must all do our part to bring greater awareness to cardiac problems and the risk they present to student athletes in particular. I hope the governor will honor the life of Patrick Awosogba and protect future student athletes by signing this bill into law.
by Patrick Diegnan, Jr., chairman of the New Jersey Assembly Education Committee. He represents the 18th Legislative District in Middlesex County.