Sudden cardiac death (SCD) in children is very rare but when these cases occur there is often extensive media coverage because of the tragedy and effect on so many lives. It is estimated that for every 100,000 young athletes there will be 4 cases of SCD. SCD almost always occurs during or immediately following sports activity.
There is a great controversary as to how to screen for children that are at risk. Currently, all young athletes are required to have a history and physical performed. Part of this process is to obtain an extensive family medical history and also to examine the athlete. Further testing is done only if something is picked up on this sports physical. Some cardiologists feel that all athletes should have at least one EKG (an inexpensive electrical study of the heart) done to look for some of the most common causes of SCD. In Italy, all competitive athletes ages 12-35 years old must have and EKG as part of their sports physical. As a result of this policy, the incidence of SCD has been reduced by almost 90%. (Yabek, SM. Pediatrics 2007 119(2):407-408).