Posted on 01/18/2010

Newswise — The tragic news of Chicago Bears defensive end Gaines
Adams, 26, and Southern Indiana center Jeron Lewis, 21, whose sudden deaths are
both suspected to be from Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), are vital
reminders that this deadly disease often goes undetected.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a genetic disease which
results in a thickening of the heart muscle, is the leading cause of sudden
death in children and young adults. It accounts for 40 percent of all deaths on
athletic playing fields across the country.

Marcia Kelley-Clark, chief deputy coroner for Greenwood County,
S.C., said Gaines Adams’ relatives were not aware of any kind of medical
condition. University of Southern Indiana spokesman Dan McDonnell said he
wasn't aware of any preexisting medical conditions that could have contributed
to Jeron's death.

Estimated to affect one in 500 Americans, HCM can be detected
and treated allowing patients to live long lives. College and professional
athletes should all have comprehensive cardiac exams to ensure they have
healthy hearts free from HCM. For the younger population of athletes – from
elementary school to high school – simply improving pre-participation screening
forms and conducting ECG on properly selected children will reduce sudden
cardiac death.

Adams and Lewis were in a subset for those at higher risk for
sudden cardiac arrest from HCM. African American males, this population
represents 50% of all those who die from HCM in the athletic spectrum.

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For expert commentary, contact Carissa Caramanis O’Brien at or call 978-875-2020.