Study: Screening Program Reduces Sudden Cardiac Deaths

ByABC News
September 29, 2006, 1:27 PM

Oct. 3, 2006 — -- Ryan Owens, 16, and a lineman on the Henderson County High School football team in Henderson, Ky., went to football practice last month.

After practice, he collapsed and shortly died. The death came as a shock to the people of Henderson.

Owens died of an unusual heart rhythm, brought on by heat and an undiagnosed heart problem.

He never had any symptoms prior to his collapse.

Deaths like this are a parent's worst nightmare, but unfortunately, his case is not unique.

About 335,000 people a year die of coronary heart disease before being admitted to a hospital or even making it to an emergency room, according to the American Heart Association.

Health officials call this Sudden Cardiac Death or SCD.

Most victims are older, but a few cases involve young athletes, who appear to be in the peak of physical health and have no symptoms of impending doom.

SCD is a phenomenon that is seen worldwide in which a previously healthy person has some form of heart problem that leads to sudden death.

Most of these are related to a class of heart problems known as cardiomyopathies in which the heart muscle is diseased, leading to pump and rhythm problems.