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Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is when the heart stops beating, suddenly and unexpectedly.  When this happens, blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs.  SCA is not a heart attack; it is a malfunction in the heart’s electrical system, causing the victim to collapse.  The malfunction is caused by a congenital or genetic defect in the heart’s structure.  SCA is more likely to occur during exercise or sports activity, so athletes are at greater risk. These symptoms can be unclear and confusing in athletes. Often, people confuse these warning signs with physical exhaustion. If not properly treated within minutes, SCA is fatal in 92 percent of cases. In a school district, charter school, or private school that elects to conduct athletic activities, the athletic director, coach, athletic trainer, or authorized person must remove from participation a pupil who passes out or faints, or who is known to have passed out or fainted, while participating in or immediately following an athletic activity.  A pupil who exhibits any of the other symptoms of SCA during an athletic activity may be removed from participation if the athletic trainer or authorized person reasonably believes that the symptoms are cardiac related.  A pupil who is removed from play may not return to that activity until he or she is evaluated by, and receives written clearance from, a physician or surgeon. On a yearly basis, an acknowledgement of receipt and review of information regarding SCA must be signed and returned by the pupil and the pupil’s parent or guardian before a pupil participates in specific types of athletic activities which generally does not apply to those conducted during the regular schoolday or as part of a physical education course.

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