Skip to main content
Skip to page content
Skip Navigation LinksPennsylvania Department of Health > My Health > School Health > Sudden Cardiac Arrest

​Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest is not just a concern for adults. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it takes the lives of approximately 2,000 children every year. On May 29, 2012, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania adopted Act 59 called the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act. This Act contains three requirements: 
     1. Parents of student athletes in the public school system must read and sign an acknowledgment form prior to their student participating in sports.
     2. Coaches must complete an annual training course on sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden Cardiac Arrest Training is the only approved course.
     3. Coaches must remove a player that exhibits warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest and may not allow their return until cleared by a licensed medical professional.

What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a condition in which the heart unexpectedly ceases to function. Often, this is because of ventricular fibrillation, irregular and rapid quivering of the heart's lower pumping chambers (ventricles). When this occurs, blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs, causing loss of consciousness or seizure-like activity in seconds.
If not treated within minutes, SCA results in death. The normal rhythm of the heart can only be restored with defibrillation, an electrical shock that is safely delivered to the chest by an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Sudden Cardiac Arrest is frequently the outcome of an underlying heart condition. It can also occur secondary to other conditions such as impact to the chest, heat stroke, asthma, drowning, electrocution, allergic reaction or medication.
Additional Resources for Sudden Cardiac Arrest
COACHES: You Could Save a Life!  Information and risk assessment form
Parent Heart Watch  A national network of parents, families and partners dedicated to reducing Sudden Cardiac Arrest in youth
Pediatric Sudden Cardiac Arrest ​Policy Statement on Pediatric Sudden Cardiac Arrest from the American Academy of Pediatrics
Simon's Fund  An organization dedicated to saving children's lives by raising awareness of conditions that lead to sudden cardiac arrest and death
Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes Foundation  A Foundation dedicated to saving the ives and supporting the families of children and young addults who are genetically predisposed to sudden death due to heart rhythm abnormalities
Sudden Cardiac Arrest Fact Sheet  Developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health
Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation​  A Foundation whose mission is to raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrest, a leading cause of death in the U.S. and Pennsylvania.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest of High School Athlete Released by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, this video shows the cardiac arrest of a high school senior and how her life was saved by the quick action of school officials who began CPR and used an AED.
Updated: June 17, 2016