Posted by SCAFoundation on 08/08/2011

Football Deaths Should Be A Wake-Up Call for Parents and Other High School Stakeholders

What do high school football players Tyquan Brantley, 14, of South Carolina, Donaterio J. (D.J.) Searcy, 16, of Georgia, Isaiah Laurencin, 16, of Florida, Samuel Gitt, 17, of Pennsylvania, and high school football coach Wade McClain, 55, of Texas have in common? They all reached the end zone far too soon—crushed by a formidable opponent, sudden cardiac arrest.

Late summer’s brutal heat was said to be a factor in most of these recent deaths—temperatures have been among the warmest on record.

Andrew Grundstein, a climatologist at the University of Georgia, reports that the risk of sudden death during football practice has increased, thanks to a combination of heat, humidity, and the growing girth of players. Grundstein studied 58 fatalities and found that most of the deaths occurred during the first few weeks of practice. Overweight or obese players were most at-risk. 

In a recent article published in Circulation, Eloi Marijon, MD, of the Paris Cardiovascular Research Center reports that sports-related sudden death in the general population is considerably more common than previously suspected. Bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were the strongest independent predictors for survival to hospital discharge. 

“Sudden death in young athletes can be prevented,” said Norman S. Abramson, MD. FACEP, FCCM, Professor Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Chair of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation Board of Directors. “Schools that are serious about player safety should have emergency-response plans that include ready access to AEDs at all games and practices, and trained individuals who are prepared to help.”

It's the least we can do to honor those who have passed.

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NOTE: Make sure your school and team are ready to tackle sudden cardiac arrest. Download a free copy of “You Can Save a Life at School” at www.sca-aware.org/schools. 

-Mary Newman