Recently Dr. Mehmet Oz, professor of surgery at Columbia University in New York and host of the syndicated TV program The Dr. Oz Show, took an in-depth look at what parents can do to prevent sudden cardiac death — what he terms “the number one sudden killer in children.”
The show began by reviewing the disturbing numbers about sudden cardiac death in children:
- 7,000 children a year in the U.S. are stricken by sudden cardiac arrest.
- Only 5% of young victims survive sudden cardiac arrest — but that percentage could be much higher if parents and communities are prepared.
“One minute your child is the picture of health — then suddenly her heart simply stops beating,” Dr. Oz explained to his studio audience. “Her young life ends, far too soon.”
Dr. Oz and guests went on to talk about the undetected heart conditions that can cause sudden cardiac arrest in children. In a recent research study in Houston, Dr. Arif Ali screened 6th graders for heart defects using an exam that included EKG testing (electrocardiograms) and echocardiograms. Seven children in the group were found to have heart defects, two of which required surgery.
Dr. Ali advised parents to get screenings for children whenever there are symptoms of heart problems or family risk factors. He also recommended that parents make sure their children’s schools have automated external defibrillators on hand.
“Make sure there are AEDs in your school,” Dr. Ali said. “They have a proven track record to save lives.”
Dr. Oz interviewed Laurie and Luther Friend, a Houston couple whose daughter Sarah died of sudden cardiac arrest. The Friends’ told of their successful campaign to get legislation passed so that AEDs are required in Texas schools. They reported that in the week prior to the taping of the TV show, two children in Houston suffered sudden cardiac arrest and were revived by school staff using AEDs.