July 10, 2008

Heart Syndromes Killing 350,000 Annually Highlighted This Week By Survivors and Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes Foundation

The Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes (SADS) Foundation launched an awareness campaign through the second annual Climb to Conquer SADS event, taking place this week from July 9 through the 12th at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state.

"We can help stop SADS from killing thousands of people in America every year if parents took their children to a heart specialist upon the child experiencing symptoms like fainting during exercise or seizures without a prior history. If parents are aware of unexplained young deaths in their family they should also consult with a heart specialist about the risks of their child having inherited a potentially fatal heart disease," said Chris Anderson, M.D., an event climber and Pediatric Electrophysiologist with Northwest Center for Congenital Heart Disease at Sacred Heart Children's Hospital in Spokane, Washington. "Additionally teachers and coaches should become more aware of SADS and talk with parents if a child they teach is experiencing fainting, unusual chest pain, or shortness of breath during exercise or periods of excitement. Parents can learn more at www.stopsads.org."

-- Of the 350,000 who die suddenly and unexpectedly due to cardiac arrhythmias, almost 4,000 of them are young people under the age of 35 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2002).

-- Ten to twelve percent of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome cases are believed to be due to cardiac arrhythmias caused by inherited disease like Long QT Syndrome (LQTS) of CPVT.

-- LQTS is now known to be 3 times more common in the US than childhood leukemia.

-- One in 200,000 high school athletes in the United States will die suddenly, most without any prior symptoms (Journal of the American Medical Association 1996; 276).

-- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from sudden cardiac arrest increased 10%, from 2,719 in 1989 to 3,000 in 1996, in people between the ages of 15 and 34.

Noted international explorer and climber John Roskelley and a team of climbers will attempt to scale Mount Rainier July 9-12 to raise money for research and efforts to save the lives of children and young people that may be at risk of sudden cardiac death and not even know it. A group of SADS Foundation supporters including survivors, their families and their friends will take part in educational activities at the Alta Crystal Resort at the base of Mt. Rainier in Greenwater, Washington.

"Through Climb to Conquer SADS we are launching an effort to raise public awareness of these tragic inherited syndromes in the hopes of saving young lives," said SADS Foundation President and CEO Alice Lara. "Our vision is to achieve a national infrastructure that includes CPR training for all teachers, coaches and high school kids, widespread deployment of automated external defibrillators, and markedly improved public awareness of SADS. This climb to summit Mount Rainier is one step in the process of making these goals happen."

The Climb to Conquer SADS seeks to educate the public and the medical community on the three most important warning signs that could indicate the presence of a potentially lethal condition in young people:

-- Fainting or seizure during exercise, excitement or when startled

-- A family history of unexpected, unexplained sudden death in young persons

-- Consistent or unusual chest pain and/or shortness of breath during exercise or intense play

Individuals with a history of these symptoms or risk factors should see a cardiologist, as most causes of sudden cardiac death events occurring in children, teens, and young adults can be diagnosed and treated.

About the SADS Foundation

The SADS Foundation is a non-profit organization that was established in 1991 with the sole mission of saving lives and supporting the families of children and young adults who are genetically predisposed to sudden death due to heart rhythm abnormalities. The foundation facilitates medical decisions, early diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm abnormalities that can cause sudden death by providing educational materials to more than 27,000 patients, doctors, and families around the world each year. In addition, the SADS Foundation encourages heart rhythm abnormality research and initiates public campaigns to increase the awareness about the warning signs of heart rhythm abnormalities that can cause sudden death. Visit www.sads.org for more information.


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