Can Sudden Death in Young Athletes Be Prevented?

    Presentation at the HFSA 12th Annual Scientific Meeting highlights most
    prevalent forms of Athlete Sudden Death Syndrome and its relation to
    heart-failure, and discusses safety steps that could help save lives.

    TORONTO, Sept. 22 /CNW/ -- Today at the 12th Annual Scientific Meeting of
the Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA) Dr. Mark S. Link, an
electrophysiologist and Professor of Medicine, Tufts University, addressed the
topic, "Athletes and Sudden Death Syndrome." Athletes and Sudden Death
Syndrome (ASDS) is an often fatal syndrome occurring in young athletes. Dr.
Link presented findings which showed that by following some very simple steps,
lives could be saved.  One step would be using safety baseballs and chest
protectors for young baseball players. He outlined factors commonly associated
with ASDS and the frequent underlying link to heart failure. Dr. Link
discussed other athletic activities found to trigger ASDS, as well as other
possible underlying (and undiagnosed) medical conditions i.e., hypertrophic
cardiomyopathy, Long QT Syndrome, Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular
Cardiomyopathy and commotio cordis.
    "While optimal screening measures have not yet been determined, research
does show crucial measures to prevent death and injury in young athletes do
exist," said Dr. Link. "For example, safety baseballs, which feel like
standard balls but reduce the force of an impact would serve to reduce the
incidence of sudden death with ball impact."  Dr. Link listed factors that
define high-risk groups for ASDS, such as age and gender, explaining that
baseball is the sport most likely to cause an arrhythmia which can occur when
a baseball is delivered at a certain velocity and hits an individual's chest
at a precise moment during the cardiac cycle, causing an arrhythmia and sudden
cardiac death. Link added that a third preventative step would be to change
the rules in certain sports.   For example, a young college-aged male lacrosse
player died while attempting to block a ball with his chest. The cause of his
death was commotio cordis. Should rules for sports be changed to help prevent
these avoidable catastrophes?
    Mortality rates in Athlete Sudden Death Syndrome are most common in the
25 and younger age group, most occurring between the ages of 5 - 16. "Athlete
Sudden Death Syndrome in relation to heart failure opens a very important
forum for the prevention of these deaths considering the large percentage of
the population that is involved with athletics and especially because the
average age ASDS affects is so very young," said Dr. Barry Greenberg, HFSA
President and Professor of Medicine, and Director, Advanced Heart Failure
Treatment Program, University of California, San Diego.
    For a complete list of annual meeting sessions or for details on
attending the conference, call (617) 226-7192 or visit and click
on Annual Scientific Meeting. There is no registration fee for accredited
journalists. Interview areas will be available on-site in addition to a
fully-staffed press room with phone and internet accessibility.
    About Heart Failure
    Heart failure is a progressive condition in which the heart muscle
becomes weakened after it is injured from heart attack or high blood pressure
and gradually loses its ability to pump enough blood to supply the body's
needs. Many people are not aware they have heart failure because the symptoms
are often mistaken for signs of getting older. Heart failure affects from 4.6
to 4.8 million individuals in the United States. Demographic and clinical
evidence strongly suggest the prevalence of heart failure will increase
throughout the next decade. Ten to 15 years ago heart failure was considered a
"death sentence"; however, recent advances in treatment have shown that early
diagnosis and proper care in early stages of the condition are key to slowing,
stopping or in some cases reversing progression, improving quality of life,
and extending life expectancy. For more information on heart failure, please
    About the Heart Failure Society of America
    The Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA) is a nonprofit educational
organization, founded in 1994 as the first organized association of heart
failure experts. Today HFSA has over 1,700 members and provides a forum for
all those interested in heart function, heart failure research and patient
care. The Society also serves as a resource for governmental agencies (FDA,
NIH, NHLBI, CMS). The HFSA Annual Scientific Meeting is designed to highlight
recent advances in the development of strategies to address the complex
epidemiological, clinical and therapeutic issues of heart failure. Additional
information on HFSA can be found at

For further information:

For further information: Kaitlyn Siner, +1-617-226-7192, cell,
+1-401-339-0954,, or Ben Hendricks,
+1-617-226-7183, cell, +1-919-522-2978,, both
for The Heart Failure Society of America Web Site:       

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