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Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act

Pennsylvania is leading the way in youth athletic health and safety. The commonwealth became the first state in the nation to pass a law that protects student athletes from sudden cardiac arrest.

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act aims to reduce fatalities related to cardiac arrest in young athletes, and increase awareness and education.

Recognizing the Signs of Sudden Cardiac Arrest

The act, officially set into law on July 30, 2012, requires coaches to remove any student athlete who exhibits signs or symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest while participating in an athletic event.

These symptoms can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Unexplained shortness of breath
  • Racing or fluttering heartbeat (palpitations)
  • Unexplained seizures
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
  • Chest pains

If the student athlete has a history of these symptoms at any time prior to or following an athletic activity, he or she cannot return to participation until evaluated and cleared in writing by a licensed physician or certified registered nurse.

The Coach’s Role

Often times, coaches are the first line of defense in recognizing signs of cardiac arrest, taking immediate action, and removing an athlete from play.

For those who do not follow these safety standards, the law sets the following repercussions:

  • First violation = suspension from coaching any athletic activity for the remainder of the season.
  • Second violation = suspension from coaching for the remainder of the season, as well as the next season.
  • Third violation = permanent ban for life from any coaching activity.

To maintain proper education and knowledge, coaches must also take an annual online training course on sudden cardiac arrest.

Education and Awareness

According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act, parents of student athletes in the public school system must review and sign an information sheet about the warning signs and conditions of sudden cardiac arrest.

In addition, the law encourages schools to hold informational meetings, prior to the start of each athletic season, about sudden cardiac arrest and the importance of recognizing the symptoms.

These meetings may include:

  • Student athletes of all ages
  • Parents
  • Coaches
  • Athletic trainers
  • Doctors and other medical professionals

Read the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act at www.legis.state.pa.us.

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