Pallone, Menendez and Lautenberg Introduce Bill to Combat Silent Killer in Young People, Sudden Cardiac Arrest

WASHINGTON DC — Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Ranking Member of the Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health and U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today re-introduced the Cardiomyopathy Health Education, Awareness, Risk Assessment, and Training in the Schools (HEARTs) Act of 2013, legislation to combat Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), the leading cause of death on school property. Cardiomyopathy, one of the causes of SCA, is frequently misdiagnosed and only five percent of those affected survive it.

The HEARTS Act requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to coordinate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as patient advocacy and health professional organizations, to develop and distribute materials about SCA to school administrators, teachers and parents.  It also calls for guidelines regarding the placement of life-saving automated external defibrillators in schools, as well as information on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training.  Providing this valuable information about cardiomyopathy and SCA to families, schools, and child care centers is an important step in helping to save young lives.   

“Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a silent killer, striking 7,000 children a year. This legislation will help raise awareness about its causes and hopefully prevent these tragic deaths,” says Rep. Pallone. “I’m proud to reintroduce the HEARTS Act to hopefully bring light to SCA in the place children most often are – school.”

“This is a devastating disease, one which we simply do not know enough about,” said Senator Menendez.  “What we do know is that cardiomyopathy is a leading cause of sudden cardiac arrest with only a 5 percent survival rate.  Schools need to be educated and ready for a cardiac emergency, as do families. I am proud to be reintroducing the HEARTS Act in the Senate, which is a key first step toward raising awareness and saving lives.”

“The HEARTs Act will better equip our parents, schools, and health departments with the tools to act when heart conditions strike our children,” stated Senator Frank R. Lautenberg.  “Already, Cardiomyopathy threatens tens of thousands of young children, but because of a failure to properly screen for the disease, many more children may be at risk but go undiagnosed. We must take action and raise awareness so more of our children aren’t needlessly put at risk.”

“We commend Representative Pallone and Senators Menendez and Lautenberg’s leadership in bringing awareness to pediatric cardiomyopathy,” says Lisa Yue, founding executive director of the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation. “The reintroduction of the Cardiomyopathy HEARTS bill in both the Senate and the House shows their commitment to this issue and to preventing sudden cardiac death in high risk children. We look forward to continuing our work with them to save lives.”

In the US there are 600,000 people with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and there are nearly one million with other conditions that can cause SCA in young people. According to the CDC, one student athlete falls victim to SCA every three to four days.  

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