Get you kids checked for heart defects before sports

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Thousands of youth die unexpectedly from Sudden Cardiac Arrest/Death (SCA/D) each year while playing sports. Three to five teens in San Diego. SCA’s are not part of the pre-participation sports physically and can be detected with a simple EKG.

Thousands of youth die unexpectedly from Sudden Cardiac Arrest/Death (SCA/D) each year while playing sports. Three to five teens in San Diego. SCA’s are not part of the pre-participation sports physically and can be detected with a simple EKG.

Since the death of Eric Paredes in 2009, a Steele Canyon High School sophomore, his parents founded the Eric Paredes Save A Life Foundation to bring awareness of this issue, provide education and more important, make opportunities for youth in our area to be screened. It has just released its fall screenings and it is holding its first screening at El Capitan High School in Lakeside on Sept. 17 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. This is the first of three free screenings available and all of the screenings are open to the public, regardless of where your children go to school. They will also be screening at Southwest High School in South Bay on Oct. 15 and at UCSD La Jolla on Nov. 12.

This is a great program that not only needs community support, but gives you the chance to not take a chance and get your child screen for SCA, especially if they are involved in sports, and between the ages of 12 to 25. Since its conception, the Foundation has screened 23,671 CIF student athletes since 2010, finding 425 hearts with abnormalities and 179 teens at risk.

It takes less than an hour, the entire process in non-invasive and the screenings include a health history review, an EKG, consultation with a cardiologist, and if needed a limited echocardiogram. But you must register, there are no walk ins. If youth bring in a fully signed and completed screening packer, parents do not have to be present and results are given within a few weeks. They also assist if you do not have access to medical care.

As a parent, this is a no-brainer. Take an hour, and possibly save a life. The life of your own child. And if your child loves sports, this is especially imperative. There is only gain in this situation and it should be fully utilized, supported, and funded.

It cost the Foundation $20 per student and now is on a track that screens more than 4,000 each year. As wonderful as that is, it is not enough. We need more screenings available. So supporting the Foundation by volunteering and donations is another way to help save the lives of our youth.

The Eric Paredes Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Act was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in September 2016. This expands student athlete safety standards to include Sudden Cardiac Arrest protocol that will require student athletes to acknowledge annually that they received a fact sheet on cardiac arrest warning signs. This just was implemented on July 1.

This is a great start and took a lot of work, but we need stronger legislation that not only brings awareness, but like the Foundation has action behind it. It needs to be mandatory for young athletes to be SCA tested before beginning any type of sports program. But this will not happen without parents getting involved, contacting their state and federal government officials, and take action to create a broader expansion of this Act. And although I believe California can be a leader in this effort, especially with the heart behind the Paredes family, it is something that should be looked at across the nation.

For now, Support the Eric Paredes Save a life Foundation and other foundations that deal with this lack of oversight when it comes to school sports. All of this information is on the Foundations website along with the ability to register for one of the upcoming screenings and the packages that you need to complete before going to the screening.

The loss of a child is the unspoken possible tragedy of every parent. So take one simple step to make sure that your child is ready and healthy enough to participate in sports. It is already dangerous in other ways and there are thousands of injuries every year. Take one risk out of this equation and get your child tested. And if you can afford the $20 that it costs to give this free test, donate it to the Foundation. www.epsavealife.org.

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