Back to Top Skip to main content

Sudden cardiac death in young athletes

High school basketball requires skill and rigorous training. In rare but highly publicized cases, it can also bring cardiac issues to the surface. (U.S. Army photo by Chuck Gannon) High school basketball requires skill and rigorous training. In rare but highly publicized cases, it can also bring cardiac issues to the surface. (U.S. Army photo by Chuck Gannon)

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Health Readiness | Heart Health | Preventive Health

In January, a student athlete at Spartanburg High School in South Carolina collapsed after a basketball game against rival Riverside. Two coaches performed CPR and used a defibrillator until paramedics arrived. The teenager survived. Less than a month earlier at John Bowne High School in Flushing, Queens, New York, a student athlete, who his mother described as “healthy as you could imagine” collapsed during basketball practice. Sadly, coaches were unable to revive him. It was later determined Lenny Pierre, the New York student, had a major blood vessel in his heart that was in an abnormal location, resulting in sudden cardiac arrest. He was only 16.

Sudden cardiac events can occur in seemingly healthy young people in their teens or twenties, including young servicemembers. “Being in the military, you are signing yourself up for an active lifestyle, and I think most people want that,” said Army Lt. Col. Erik Johnson, a pediatric cardiologist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. “I think that’s encouraged in dependents as well. Any accurate information is helpful in making sure families know what to look for in their kids so they get them to appropriate providers if necessary.”

Johnson said there are several possible causes of sudden cardiac death in young competitive athletes, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM. “It is actually fairly common in the general population,” said Johnson. “About 1 in 500 people have this, and it accounts for about a third of sudden cardiac death in young athletes.”

While HCM is hereditary, other cardiac conditions are not, such as the coronary artery abnormality that caused Lenny Pierre’s death. “A coronary artery that doesn’t come off where it normally should causes another 15 to 20 percent of sudden cardiac death,” said Johnson. “Overall, more than 50 percent of the cases of sudden cardiac death in young athletes are caused by either HCM or coronary artery abnormalities.”

Heart problems in young people often go undetected, leaving providers to look for clues. “A provider could look at a child and suspect Marfan syndrome,” said Johnson. According to the National Institutes of Health, Marfan syndrome is a disorder that affects the connective tissue and may result in abnormalities such as dilation and rupture of the aorta, a catastrophic and often fatal event. Johnson added that a diagnosis of Marfan syndrome would mean exercise restrictions for the child.

Other causes of sudden cardiac issues in athletes include arrhythmias, myocarditis, and congenital heart disease. Arrhythmias are irregular heartbeats (too fast or too slow) which could be genetic or the result of a direct blow to the chest by a batted ball or an on-field collision. Myocarditis is an infection of the muscle of the heart that affects the heart’s ability to pump well. Congenital heart disease encompasses a number of structural problems of the heart that a child may be born with.

Johnson urges parents of young athletes and their coaches to be aware of signs and symptoms that indicate the need to see a provider before a catastrophic event. These include:

  • Chest pain with exertion every time a child tries to run or participate in some other kind of aerobic activity
  • Irregular heartbeat, where a child complains that the heart is beating too fast or too slow, or is skipping beats
  • Loss of consciousness during exercise
  • Decreased exercise tolerance, where a child feels fatigued with a level of exercise that was previously routine

“The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology have put out guidelines looking at sports participation in patients who have [diagnosed] cardiac disease,” said Johnson. The guidelines, updated in 2015, list recommendations and restrictions for competitive athletes who engage in “vigorous training” while living with 15 different classifications of heart conditions.

While this information may be alarming, parents just need to be vigilant. Cases of sudden cardiac death in young athletes are exceedingly rare, with about 1 occurrence in 80,000 – 100,000 children per year, according to Johnson. In an otherwise healthy child, there is no need to place restrictions on activities or sports due to the remote possibility that something bad could happen.

There is clear evidence that activity like sports participation improves both the physical and mental health of children. “Some of the best screening we can do is to ask, ‘do they have symptoms?’ said Johnson. “The answers can clue you into looking deeper into some of these uncommon things.” Uncommon things that could save a life.

You also may be interested in...

Five cold seasons: July 2012-June 2017, Active reserve component service members who were diagnosed with a cold weather injury

Infographic
1/18/2018
Did you know during the 5-year surveillance period, the 2,717 service members who were affected by any cold weather injury included 2,307 from the active component and 410 from the reserve component. Overall, Army members comprised the majority (61.6%) of all cold injuries affecting active and reserve component service members. Of all affected reserve component members, 71.7% (n=294) were members of the Army. Cold weather injuries During Basic Training Of all active component service members who were diagnosed with a cold weather injury (n= 2,307), 230 (10.0% of the total) were affected during basic training. Additionally, during the surveillance period, 60 service members who were diagnosed with cold weather injuries during basic training (2.6% of the total) were hospitalized, and most (93.3%) of the hospitalized cases were members of either the Army (n=32) or Marine Corps (n=24). Cold weather injuries during basic training pie chart: The Army (n=122) and Marine Corps (n=99) comprised 96.1% of all basic trainees who were diagnosed with a cold weather injury. Access the full report in the October 2017 MSMR (Vol. 24, No. 10). Go to: www.Health.mil/MSMR  #ColdReadiness Image of service member tracking in the snow is the infographic background graphic.

This infographic provides information on active and reserve component service members who were affected by any cold weather injury during the July 2012 – June 2017 cold seasons.

Recommended Content:

Winter Safety | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Health Readiness

Update: Cold Weather Injuries, Active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2012 – June 2017

Infographic
1/18/2018
The total number of cold weather injuries among active component service members in 2016 – 2017 cold season was the lowest since 1999. 2016 – 2017 versus the previous four cold seasons  •	A total of 387 members of the active (n=328) and reserve (n=59) components had at least one medical encounter with a primary diagnosis of cold weather injury. •	Rates tended to be higher among service members who were in the youngest age groups, female, non-Hispanic black, or in the Army. •	Cold weather injuries associated with overseas deployments have fallen precipitously in the past three cold seasons due to changes in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. There were just 10 cases in the 2016 – 2017 season.  •	Frostbite was the most common type of cold weather injury. Bar chart displays numbers of service members who had a cold injury (one per person per year), by service and cold season, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2012 – June 2017. Access the full report in the October 2017 MSMR (Vol. 24, No. 10). Go to: www.Health.mil/MSMR  #ColdReadiness

This infographic provides an update for cold weather injuries among active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2012 – June 2017.

Recommended Content:

Winter Safety | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Health Readiness

Cold weather injuries by military location, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2012 – June 2017

Infographic
1/18/2018
From July 2016 through June 2017, a total of 24 military locations had at least 30 incident cold weather injuries (one per person, per year) among active and reserve component service members.  The locations with the highest 5-year counts of incident injuries were: •	Fort Wainwright, AK (175) •	Bavaria (Grafenwoehr/Vilseck), Germany (110) •	Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island/ Beaufort, SC (102) •	Fort Benning, GA (99) •	Fort Carson, CO (88) •	Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA (86) •	Fort Bragg, NC (78) Map displays the information above. 2016 – 2017 cold season During the 2016 – 2017 cold season, the numbers of incident cases of cold weather injuries were higher than the counts for the previous 2015-2016 cold season at seven of the 24 locations. The most noteworthy increase was found at the Army’s Fort Wainwright, where there were 48 total cases diagnosed in 2016 – 2017 , compared to just 16 during the 2015 – 2016 cold season. Bar chart shows annual number of cold weather injuries (cold season 2016 – 2017) and median number of cold weather injuries (cold seasons 2012 – 2016) at military locations with at least 30 cold weather injuries during the surveillance period, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2012 – June 2017. Access the full report in the October 2017 MSMR (Vol. 24, No. 10). Go to: www.Health.mil/MSMR Image in background includes  service members out in the snow.

This infographic documents cold weather injuries by military location among U.S. Armed Forces for the July 2012 – June 2017 cold seasons.

Recommended Content:

Winter Safety | Health Readiness

2016 – 2017 Cold Season, Cold Weather Injuries, Active and Reserve Components, U.S. Armed Forces

Infographic
1/18/2018
or the 2016 – 2017 cold season, the number of active component service members with cold weather injuries was the lowest of the last 18 cold seasons since the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report (MSMR) began reporting such data in the 1999-2000 cold season. Findings •	The overall incidence rate for cold weather injuries for all active component service members in 2016 – 2017 was 15% lower than the rate for the 2015 – 2016 cold season. •	The 2016 – 2017 rate was the lowest of the entire five year surveillance period. •	In the 2016 – 2017 cold season, the Army’s incidence rate of 41.0 per 100,000 person-years for active component soldiers was 18% lower than the Army’s lowest previous rate in 2012 – 2013. •	In the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, the active component rate for 2016 – 2017 was only slightly higher than their lowest rates during the 2012—2017 surveillance period. Pie chart 1 (left side of infographic): Cold Weather Injuries, By Service, Active Component, 2016 – 2017 data •	Army 57.6% (n=189) •	Marine Corps 21.0% (n=69) •	Air Force - 13.1% (n=43) •	Navy – 8.2% (n=27) •	The sharp decline in the Army rate during the 2016 – 2017 cold season drove the overall decline for all services combined. Pie chart 2 (right side of infographic): Percentage distribution by service of cold weather injuries among reserve component service members during cold season 2016 – 2017  •	Army 72.9% (n=43) •	Marine Corps 13.5% (n=8) •	Air Force 13.5% (n=8) •	Navy (n= 0) •	For the 2016 – 2017 cold season, the overall rate of cold weather injuries for the reserve component and the rates for each of the services except the Air Force were lower than in any of the previous four seasons. Access the full report in the October 2017 MSMR (Vol. 24, No. 10). Go to: www.Health.mil/MSMR

This infographic documents cold weather injuries among the active and reserve components of the U.S. Armed Forces for the 2016 – 2017 cold season.

Recommended Content:

Winter Safety | Health Readiness

Incidence rates of cold weather injuries: Non-Hispanic black service members, five cold weather seasons, July 2012 – June 2017

Infographic
1/18/2018
Did you know for all of the services, overall rates of cold weather injuries were higher among non-Hispanic black service members than among those of other race/ethnicity groups? •	Rates of cold weather injuries among non-Hispanic black service members were two-times as high as those among non-Hispanic white or other race/ethnicity groups.  •	The rates of frostbite among non-Hispanic black service members were three-times those of the other race/ethnicity groups. Access the full report in the October 2017 MSMR (Vol. 24, No. 10). Go to www.Health.mil/MSMR  #ColdReadiness Image of non-Hispanic black service member in the snow displays.

This infographic documents incidence rates of cold weather injuries among non-Hispanic black service members during the July 2012 – June 2017 cold weather seasons.

Recommended Content:

Winter Safety | Health Readiness

Cold weather injuries during deployments, July 2012 – June 2017

Infographic
1/18/2018
During the 5-year surveillance period, 105 cold weather injuries were diagnosed and treated in service members deployed outside the U.S. of these, 39 (37%) were immersion injuries; 33 (31%) were frostbite; 16 (15%) were hypothermia; and 17 (16%) were “unspecified” cold weather injuries. Pie chart for cold weather injuries during deployments displays depicting the information above. Number of cold weather injuries bar chart: Of all 105 cold weather injuries during the surveillance period, 68% occurred during the first two cold seasons. Bar chart shows the number of cold weather injuries by year: •	2012-2013 cold season had 35 cold weather injuries •	2013-2014 cold season had 100 cold weather injuries •	2014 -2015 cold season had 13 cold weather injuries •	2015-2016 cold season had 11 cold weather injuries •	2016 – 2017 had 10 cold weather injuries Access the full report in the October 2017 MSMR (Vol. 24, No. 10). Go to: www.Health.mil/MSMR  #ColdReadiness

This infographic documents cold weather injuries during deployments for the July 2012 – June 2017 cold seasons.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Health Readiness

Percentages of each Service’s cold weather injuries, 2016 – 2017 cold season

Infographic
1/18/2018
Did you know when all cold weather injuries were considered, not just the numbers of individuals affected, frostbite was the most common type of cold weather injury, comprising 53% (n=177) of all cold weather injuries among active component service members in 2016 – 2017? •	In the Air Force and Army respectively, 60.9% and 58.9% of all cold weather injuries were frostbite, whereas the proportions in the Marine Corps (42.9%) and Navy (25.0%) were much lower. •	For the Navy, the 2016-2017 number and rate of frostbite injuries in active component service members were the lowest of the past 5 years. •	The number of immersion injury cases in 2016 – 2017 in the Marine Corps was the lowest of the 5-year surveillance period. Bar graph: Percentages of each Service’s cold weather injuries that were frostbite, 2016 – 2017 cold season •	Air Force (60.9%) •	Army (58.9%) •	Marine Corps (42.9%) •	Navy (25.0%) For all active component service members during the 2016 – 2017, the proportions of non-frostbite cold weather injuries were as follows: •	19.5% hypothermia •	17.7% immersion injuries •	9.9% Other & unspecified cold weather injuries Access the full report in the October 2017 MSMR (Vol. 24, No. 10). Go to: www.Health.mil/MSMR  #ColdReadiness

This infographic documents the percentages of each service’s cold weather injuries, U.S. Armed Forces for the 2016 – 2017 cold season.

Recommended Content:

Winter Safety | Health Readiness

Absolute and Relative Morbidity Burdens Attributable to Various Illnesses and Injuries, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016

Infographic
6/19/2017
Did you know  … ? In 2016, essential hypertension accounted for 52,586 encounters for health care among 29,612 active component service members in the U.S. Armed Forces. Of all cardiovascular diseases, essential hypertension is by far the most common specific condition diagnosed among active duty service members. Untreated hypertension increases the risks of subsequent ischemic heart disease (heart attack), cerebrovascular disease (stroke), and kidney failure. CHART: Healthcare burdens attributable to cardiovascular diseases, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016 Major condition: •	For all other cardiovascular the number of medical encounters was 70,781, Rank 29, number of individuals affected was 35,794 with a rank of 30. The number of bed days was 4,285 with a rank of 21. •	For essential hypertension the number of medical encounters was 52,586, rank 35, number of individuals affected was 29,612 with a rank of 35. The number of bed days was 151 with a rank of 86. •	For cerebrovascular disease the number of medical encounters was 7,772, rank 79, number of individuals affected was 1,708, with a rank of 96. The number of bed days was 2,107 with a rank of 32. •	For ischemic heart disease the number of medical encounters was 6,629, rank 83, number of individuals affected 2,399 with a rank of 87. The number of bed days was 1,140 with a rank of 42. •	For inflammatory the number of medical encounters was 2,221, rank 106, number of individuals affected 1,302 with a rank of 97. The number of bed days was 297 with a rank of 72. •	For rheumatic heart disease the number of medical encounters was 319, rank 125, number of individuals affected 261, with a rank of 121. The number of bed days was 2 with a rank of 133. Learn more about healthcare burdens attributable to various diseases and injuries by visiting Health.mil/MSMRArchives. #LoveYourHeart Infogaphic graphic features transparent graphic of a man’s heart illuminated within his chest.

This infographic documents healthcare burdens attributable to cardiovascular diseases among active component, U.S. Armed Forces in 2016.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Men's Health | Heart Health

Medical encounters, by condition, U.S. Armed Forces 2016

Infographic
5/25/2017
This infographic documents the three burden of disease related conditions that accounted for the most medical encounters among the active component of the U.S. Armed Forces in 2016. LONG FORM: In 2016, the three burden of disease related conditions accounted for the most medical encounters were: •	Other back problems •	All other musculoskeletal diseases •	Knee injuries Altogether they accounted for 25.1% of all illness-and injury-related medical encounters overall. More Findings The top nine conditions that accounted for the most medical encounters accounted for 53.1% of all illness-and-injury –related medical encounters overall. In general, the conditions that accounted for the most medical encounters were predominantly musculoskeletal disorders such as the back) injuries to the knee, arm, shoulder, foot or ankle, and mental disorders like anxiety and adjustment conditions. View more findings at www.Health.mil/MSMR    Graphic details This graphic displays the musculoskeletal of a male service member’s body to show the bones of the back and knees.

This infographic documents the three burden of disease related conditions that accounted for the most medical encounters among the active component of the U.S. Armed Forces in 2016.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Conditions and Treatments

Diabetes Mellitus

Infographic
3/17/2017
Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a group of chronic metabolic conditions characterized by high blood glucose levels resulting from a decreased ability to produce and or use insulin. DM-related metabolic abnormalities are associated with damage to various organs and tissues. From 2008 - 2015, a total of 9,092 incident cases of DM were reported among active duty service members. This infographic provides details on the overall incidence rates of type 1 and 2 DM cases per 100,000 person-years. It also provides information about service members at higher risk of diabetes. Here are some key findings from the study: •	Type 1 DM (previously known as “insulin-dependent diabetes”) overall incidence rate was 3.0 cases per 100,000 p-yrs. •	Type 2 DM ( “non-insulin-dependent diabetes) was 74.5 cases per 100,000 p-yrs. And rates doubled within each successive age group.  Service members at higher risk of diabetes are male, black, non-Hispanic, unknown race/ ethnicity, Hispanic and enlisted in the Army and Navy. Learn more by visiting Health.mil/AFHSB

Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a group of chronic metabolic conditions characterized by high blood glucose levels resulting from a decreased ability to produce and or use insulin. DM-related metabolic abnormalities are associated with damage to various organs and tissues. From 2008 - 2015, a total of 9,092 incident cases of DM were reported among active duty service members. This infographic provides details on the overall incidence rates of type 1 and 2 DM cases per 100,000 person-years. It also provides information about service members at higher risk of diabetes.

Recommended Content:

Conditions and Treatments | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch

Back to School Health and Safety Checklist

Infographic
8/4/2016
Health and Safety Checklist for Back to School

This infographic provides a going back to school health and safety checklist.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Children's Health | Immunizations

Heart Disease and Its Effects on Service Members

Infographic
6/8/2016
infographic about heart disease and its effect on service members

Cardiovascular disease comprises disorders of the heart and circulatory system including coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease. This infographic provides data on the risk factors for cardiovascular disease among military members base on diagnostic codes in the electronic health records of service members during a 10-year surveillance period.

Recommended Content:

Men's Health | Heart Health

The HPV Vaccine Saves Lives

Infographic
5/16/2016
The Defense Department recommends male and female military service members, ages 17-26 years, receive an HPV vaccine series to generate a robust immune response to the quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV4). This graphic highlights information the benefits of the HPV vaccine. The vaccine is most effective among fully vaccinated individuals.   Cancer Prevention Facts •	HPV is the most common sexually  transmitted infection (STI) •	There are more than 40 HPV types that can infect the genital areas •	Some HPV types give warts •	Some HPV types develop cancer  Effective Against STI Transmission •	The HPV vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect yourself from the virus •	The HPV vaccine provides nearly 100% protection from HPV types 6,11,16 and 18 •	HPV vaccine shows early signs of success in reducing HPV infections and related illnesses •	Protection is expected to be long-lasting  Safety Tips •	Getting your HPV vaccine and practicing safe sex such as wearing a condom may lower the risk of HPV •	Limiting the number of lifetime sex partners can also lower the risk of HPV •	When given the HPV vaccine, the body makes antibodies in response to the protection to clear it from the body  Get the Facts •	2,091 female service members aged 17-26 years received 1-3 HPV4 doses during 2006-2012, stratified by number of doses (1, 2, or 3).  Get the HPV Vaccine •	Only 22.5% of eligible service members initiated the series •	Of those, only 39.1% completed the full three-dose series as of June 2011.  Even though the 3 dose regiment provides nearly complete protection against HPV16 and HPV18, in the U.S., only 12% and 19% of female adolescents among commercial and Medicaid plans respectively complete the series.  Read HPV Facts from the CDC: https://www.ok.gov/health2/documents/IMM_Teens_HPV_Facts.pdf  Read the STI issue of the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report at Health.Mil/MSMR   Get the conversation started. Ask your healthcare provider about the HPV vaccine today. Follow us on Twitter @AFHSBPAGE and use hashtag #VaccinesWork.

The Defense Department recommends male and female military service members, ages 17-26 years, receive an HPV vaccine series to generate a robust immune response to the quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV4).

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Immunizations | Men's Health | Human Papillomavirus | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Women's Health

Breast Cancer

Infographic
5/9/2016
infographic about the breast cancer and how to protect against it.

In the U.S., with the exception of skin cancer, breast cancer accounts for the greatest number of cancer diagnoses in women and the second most common cause of female cancer-related deaths. This infographic shows seven ways to protect yourself from breast cancer.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Women's Health

The ABC's of Heart Health

Infographic
2/22/2016
ABC's of Heart Health Infographic

Bring awareness to the risks of heart disease and ways to stay heart healthy.

Recommended Content:

Heart Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 61 - 75 Page 5 of 6

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing | Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.