ACC Joins Smart Heart Sports Coalition to Support Nationwide CPR Education, AED Access

The ACC has joined The Smart Heart Sports Coalition, a collaboration of 26 men's and women's professional sports leagues and related medical and advocacy groups, convened by the National Football League (NFL) to advocate for the adoption of health policies that will prevent death from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) among high school students through increased CPR education, AED access and emergency action plan requirements.

"The ACC is putting its whole heart behind the Smart Heart Sports Coalition to ensure young athletes are protected from sudden cardiac death," said ACC's Chief Medical Officer Richard Kovacs, MD, MACC. "AEDs save lives and quick action from a prepared team can make the difference between a tragedy on the field and a young athlete who goes home to their family. No coach would let their team take the field without practice and a game plan to win, and the ACC believes the same applies to emergency response. The ACC is proud to join this team of organizations across sports and medicine to make real change. We're not doing enough until we ensure young athletes are safe and AEDs are accessible to all."

The Smart Heart Sports Coalition, originally launched in March 2023, brings together professional sports leagues and leading public health, nonprofit and patient advocacy organizations to advocate for state-level adoption of the following three best practices to prevent fatal outcomes from SCA:

  1. Emergency action plans (EAPs) for each high school athletic venue that are widely distributed, posted, rehearsed, and updated annually;
  2. Clearly marked automated external defibrillators (AEDs) at each athletic venue or within one to three minutes of each venue where high school practices or competitions are held;
  3. CPR and AED education for coaches.

Sports-related incidents account for nearly 40% of SCAs among people under the age of 18. Since the founding of the coalition in March, a number of states, including New Mexico, Kentucky and Indiana, have taken action to enact one or more of these evidence-based policies proven to prevent death from SCA. In addition, the coalition has engaged with policymakers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, where legislatures are still in session. Currently only seven states have implemented all three policies, according to the Coalition.

"The addition of new partners to the coalition means more action, more impact and wider reach," said Jeff Miller, NFL executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy. "We're looking forward to building upon our initial progress and continuing to advocate for these life-saving measures at the state-level. At the NFL, our clubs and league as a whole remain committed to these efforts and to student athletes across the country."

"The ACC is both proud and honored to partner with the NFL in this critical mission to raise awareness on best practices for the management of SCA in young, competitive athletes," said Jonathan Kim, MD, FACC, chair of ACC's Sports and Exercise Cardiology Section. "Indeed, advocacy promoting education on SCA recognition and training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, legislation for mandated emergency action planning and the presence of AEDs in all sporting venues is an important priority for the ACC and a core focus of the College's Sports and Exercise Cardiology Section. We are enthusiastically committed to working with stakeholders across the ACC and as part of the Smart Heart Sports Coalition to move these legislative efforts forward and ultimately save the lives of young athletes across the United States."

Read the Smart Heart Sports Coalition press release. Learn more and join the ACC's Sports and Exercise Cardiology Section.

Additional ACC SCA resources include:

Clinical Topics: Arrhythmias and Clinical EP, Cardiovascular Care Team, Sports and Exercise Cardiology, Implantable Devices, SCD/Ventricular Arrhythmias, Atrial Fibrillation/Supraventricular Arrhythmias

Keywords: ACC Advocacy, Male, Female, United States, Football, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Data Visualization, Mexico, Defibrillators, Death, Sudden, Cardiac, Heart Arrest, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, Students, Athletes, Arrhythmias, Cardiac, Policy, Cardiology

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