In at least one-third of sudden cardiac deaths among adolescents, there are warning signs:
- Chest pains, at rest or during exertion
- Dizziness or lightheadedness, especially during exertion
- Fainting, seizure or convulsions during physical activity
- Fainting or seizures during emotional excitement, emotional distress or being startled
- Palpitations — awareness of the heart beating unusually (skipping, irregular or extra beats) during athletics or cool-down periods after athletic participation
- Fatigue or tiring more quickly than peers
- Being unable to keep up with friends due to shortness of breath (labored breathing)
- History of a heart murmur
- Family history of sudden death during physical activity or during a seizure
- Family history of sudden, unexpected death before age 50
- Family history of cardiac or aortic disease under 50 years of age
A child or teen experiencing any of these symptoms should be examined by a physician, who may then make a referral to a pediatric cardiologist. Any health concerns that arise during an athletic practice or sporting event should immediately be discussed with the school’s athletic trainer.
Reviewed by Aaron Pulver, MD, pediatric cardiologist, Asheville Cardiology Associates.