Governor, MDCH Promote Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Death of the Young

Contact: Jennifer Smith 517-241-2112

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 3, 2015

LANSING, Mich. – Every year, sudden cardiac death of the young (SCDY) claims the lives of more than 300 children and young adults under the age of 40 in Michigan.  That's why this February, Governor Rick Snyder and the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) are joining the campaign to celebrate American Heart Month and promote ways to prevent death at a younger age due to cardiac conditions. As part of the efforts, Gov. Snyder has proclaimed February 2-6 as Sudden Cardiac Death of the Young (SCDY) Awareness Week. 

"Cardiac arrest is often an unexpected event and is especially frightening when a young person is involved," said Dr. Matthew Davis, chief medical executive with the MDCH. "Early recognition and immediate interventin is critical for survival, and our hope is that all Michigan residents will know how to respond when someone has a cardiac arrest." 

SCDY is when a young, apparently healthy person dies suddenly from a cardiac arrest.  SCDY is a tragic event for families and communities, and prevention of SCDY is of public health significance. Often, a sudden cardiac event is the first apparent sign in a young person, and therefore it is important to be prepared for cardiac emergencies.  SCDY is sometimes caused by inherited conditions that affect the heart’s structure or how it beats. By raising awareness and with appropriate screening and care, young people at risk can be identified and have longer, healthier lives. Evaluating heart health and knowing one’s personal and family heart history are keys to identifying those at risk and preventing SCDY. 

Implementation of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and an automated external defibrillator (AED) within 3-5 minutes is crucial for increasing the chance of survival for cardiac arrest victims.  The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends the 'Chain of Survival' that includes five important steps: early recognition of a cardiac arrest and calling 9-1-1; rapid bystander response with hands-only CPR; use of an AED; advanced life support; and, post cardiac care. 

Since July 1, 2014, Michigan schools are required by state law to have a written cardiac emergency response plan.  Michigan schools can also receive an honorary designation as a MI HEARTSafe School by taking additional steps to prepare for a cardiac event.  In May 2014, 40 Michigan schools were awarded as a MI HEARTSafe School by MDCH, AHA, Michigan Department of Education, and Michigan Alliance for Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Death. 

For additional details about MI HEARTSafe Schools, or to apply to become one, visit www.migrc.org/miheartsafe. For more information about SCDY prevention in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/scdy.

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