AED In Schools Are Failsafe For Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Death on a Playground: Anthony’s StoryBy Dr. Robert TozziPublished June 24, 2011

One ordinary day on a playground, a 12-year-old boy announces to his friends, “I have no pulse.” He then collapses to the ground in an apparent full cardiac arrest. More than a decade ago, this tragic scenario played out for real. Anthony Cole’s heart had stopped beating, and he was considered clinically dead. The boy was airlifted to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. On the way, he had 13 electrical shocks applied to his chest in a desperate attempt to revive him. Miraculously, his heart was shocked back into its beating state; but by that time, severe, irreversible brain damage had occurred. This preventable and treatable cardiac arrest left Anthony in a coma for more than a year. Once he was out of the coma, he was left with severe handicaps that would require a lifetime of special care. The cardiac condition that caused this tragedy is called Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW). Simply described, the syndrome involves an extra piece of muscle woven into the overall mass of heart tissue that creates an electrical short circuit. In some individuals, this condition is benign – in others it can lead to palpitations or tachycardia – but, in a few, as in Anthony’s case, it can be deadly, leading to sudden and unexpected full cardiac arrest. In the most recent large-scale school screenings, this condition has been identified in up to one child per 100-1,000. The good news is that WPW is now 100 percent curable. A simple procedure, called an ablation, is used to remove the excess heart muscle, which removes all future risk of sudden death. But how can you detect a disease that may have no symptoms, even right up to last second, just before the onset of cardiac arrest? A simple EKG can make the diagnosis. Anthony’s parents have chronicled his story in their book “Resurrecting Anthony.” I had the pleasure to meet with this heroic couple during an interview on FoxNews.com Live. The following is an excerpt from an e-mail that Anthony’s mother, Linda Cole, sent me after the show: “Dear Dr. Tozzi,It was such a pleasure meeting you and your wife on Tuesday at Fox. I am quite excited that you are pursuing cardiac screening for children. This would save many families much needless heartache. I also believe that it would save Medicaid dollars in the long run. If nothing else, I hope that parents can at least be educated and given the option of paying for an EKG…” Anthony’s mom is right. This tragedy could have been avoided in two ways: 1. Required early cardiac screening for children.2. Rapidly available automated external cardiac defibrillator units at all schools, playgrounds, athletic fields and public places in general. The alternatives are starkly defined. By using established EKG technology, which costs about $40 per patient, physicians can diagnose and cure virtually all detected incidences of the bad form of WPW in young children, who will go on to lead normal, productive lives.  Tragedies like Anthony’s, which can result in subsidized health care costs mounting into the hundreds of thousands over a lifetime, can become, literally, a thing of the past. Dr. Robert J. Tozzi is the chief of pediatric cardiology and founder of the Pediatric Center for Heart Disease at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, New Jersey. He is also the director of the Gregory M. Hirsch Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center and a Fox News contributor.

Another Reason For Defibrillators in Schools!

Teen Saved By DefibrillatorFamily Raises Awareness Of DefibrillatorsCamila Bastidas

 – 23ABC North County ReporterPOSTED: 4:11 pm PDT June 24, 2011UPDATED: 4:49 pm PDT June 24, 2011 MCFARLAND, Calif. —

 March 14 was like any other day to Brooks Beler. He woke up and went to school, but it was a fateful event in his last class that perhaps changed his life forever. “I sat down in class and stood up and fell over. It was really scary, and I just remember waking up in the hospital” said Brooks. Thirteen-year old Brook went into a sudden cardiac arrest in the middle of class. He suffers from cardiomyopathy, a condition that affects the heart muscles and that day his heart to stop beating. Teachers at his school in Montana quickly began performing CPR and ran immediately to get the defibrillator. “They were on their way to get the defibrillator when the Fire Department came and used their defibrillator. They shocked him twice, and he came back after two shocks” said Brooks’ mother, Maggie Beler. Brooks says he is alive today thanks to a defibrillator, and now he is making it his mission to raise awareness about this machine that could help save lives. “You should really consider getting these because it’s very useful and it saves lives. I’m a prime example of one” said Beler. McFarland school district officials say defibrillators are expensive and putting one in every school is something the district can’t afford. “We have looked into them, but with the current budget situation, we don’t have the resources to a acquire them at this time,” said David Lopez with the McFarland School District. But Beler says you can never put a price on a life, especially when it comes to kids. “People say its too costly, but coming from my heart, your child is more important than the price of a defibrillator. So get one because its priceless,” said Beler. Defibrillators can range anywhere from $1,500 to about $2,500. The McFarland School District says it is currently looking into grants to make them available at schools.