Sudden death in athletes

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While sudden death in young athletes is rare, it is certainly tragic and often shocking because, to many of us, athletes represent the paradigm of fitness and health.

Our own community has experienced the tragic loss of a few young athletes over the past several years. For reasons that are not yet fully understood, sudden death in young African American male athletes, particularly basketball and/or football players, tends to be more common.

Sudden death in young athletes raises the issue as to whether or not these rare, tragic events can be predicted and/or prevented.

Currently, there is a lack of evidence supporting effectiveness of preventing sudden death in athletes with pre-participation screening strategies. However, automated external defibrillators (AEDs) have been proven to save lives in the incident of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

The only definitive treatment for SCA is a defibrillation shock which must be administered within a few minutes to be effective.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance to have AEDs on-site at athletic events, and at as many facilities throughout the community as possible, including parks, health clubs and schools.

Over the years, Cone Health has donated dozens of AEDs to public facilities and community organizations across the Triad.

By spreading awareness about sudden death in young athletes and having live-saving devices, such as AEDs, nearby at athletic events, we are taking steps to prevent future tragedies.

Spokesperson Background:
Dr. Steven Klein is a cardiologist at LeBauer HeartCare and a member of the Cone Health Medical Group.

Dr. Klein received his Doctor of Medicine from Harvard Medical School in 1983. He completed his residency at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Hospitals in 1987, and fellowship at Barnes Hospital-Washington University Medical Center in 1994.