Two doctors currently serving in the Oklahoma Legislature are authors of a new law aimed at raising awareness of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Unlike a heart attack, which occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked, sudden cardiac arrest is triggered by an electrical malfunction that causes the heart to simply stop beating. Death occurs within minutes if a victim doesnt receive treatment.
Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, co-authored Senate Bill 239, the Chase Morris Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act, this past session. The bill is named for a Grove high school teen who died from SCA. Approved during the session, Gov. Mary Fallin added her signature to the legislation during a ceremonial signing at the state Capitol on Wednesday. Its believed to be the first time two Oklahoma physicians have co-authored a piece of legislation.
According to the National Institutes of Health, sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in athletes during exercise. These are kids who may look and seem perfectly healthy, but their hearts simply stop beating. Without immediate life-saving action, chances are slim that theyll survive. Raising awareness about SCA can help save lives, Yen said.
The measure directs the State Department of Health and the State Department of Education to develop content for each of their websites to provide current and prospective student athletes, parents and coaches with information about sudden cardiac arrest, including warning signs, symptoms and risks. Coaches would also receive sudden cardiac arrest training once a year. The measure includes safeguards for student athletes who collapse or faint without a concurrent head injuryone of the symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest.
In addition to fainting or a seizure during or after physical activity, other warning signs of SCA may include chest pains, a racing heartbeat, unusual shortness of breath, and feeling dizzy or lightheaded after physical activity. Those with a family history of unexpected sudden death during physical activity under the age of 50 may also be at risk.
In addition to training coaches, this bill also says before they can participate in sports, students and their parents must sign a form verifying theyve reviewed information about sudden cardiac arrest symptoms and warning signs, Cox said. Were also encouraging other organizations outside of schools that sponsor athletics to follow the guidelines laid out in the legislation.
The Chase Morris Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act becomes effective on July 1.