JACC: Advances Reviews Latest Advocacy Efforts to Protect Young Athletes From SCA

By advocating for evidence-based policies like CPR education, AED access and emergency action plan (EAP) implementation, cardiovascular societies like the ACC and American Heart Association are working in tandem with initiatives like the National Football League (NFL)-led Smart Heart Sports Coalition to improve outcomes in young athletes experiencing sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), according to a recent Viewpoint published in JACC: Advances.

Elizabeth H. Dineen, DO, FACC, et al., highlight the importance of secondary prevention and speedy response time when caring for a competitive athlete during an acute emergency and delve into challenges faced when implementing the three fundamental policies backed by the NFL’s coalition: 1) access to an AED (at or within 1-3 minutes of an athletic venue); 2) an EAP enacted and rehearsed in accordance with national standards and updated annually; 3) CPR and AED training for coaches.

The significant resources required to procure, maintain and distribute AEDs remains a primary roadblock. Schools in underserved communities may struggle to acquire the needed funds for successful AED deployment, and the Access to AEDs Act of 2023 (H.R. 2730), a bill supported by the ACC, would remedy this setback by requiring the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to award grants to promote student access at elementary and secondary schools across the nation.

The authors also propose a number of ways in which clinicians can get involved, including by identifying gaps in health policy in their own locale, staying informed on legislative issues impacting sports cardiology, becoming a member of ACC’s Sports and Exercise Cardiology Member Section to begin working with the ACC Advocacy team, engaging with their respective ACC State Chapter, attending ACC Legislative Conference 2024, and developing and maintaining relationships with their local, state and federal lawmakers.

“SCA/[death] education and awareness, CPR training, AED access and EAP development represent just a few avenues where advocacy efforts can impact the field of sports cardiology and improve the cardiac health of all athletes under our watch,” write the authors. “Ensuring all practitioners who are charged in the cardiac care of athletes develop familiarity in this arena is critical, and there are numerous avenues in which one can get involved.”

Registration for ACC Legislative Conference 2024, taking place Sept. 29 – Oct. 1 in Washington, DC, is now open. Don't miss your chance to learn more about health policy issues impacting cardiovascular patients and the profession and meet with lawmakers and their staff on Capitol Hill. Learn more and register today!

Clinical Topics: Arrhythmias and Clinical EP, Sports and Exercise Cardiology, SCD/Ventricular Arrhythmias

Keywords: ACC Advocacy, Health Policy, Athletes, Death, Sudden, Cardiac, Schools

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