Saturday, July 20, 2013

Let's Quantify for a Moment, How Many Young People Have Died


  Middle school students and high school students are not the only people who die during sporting events due to arrhythmic complications of Long or Short QT syndrome.    In this way, Daniel has joined a rather elite club, but one that no one's mother would wish him to be considered a part.   Keeley Dorsey, a 19 year of running back for the University of Florida, died in 2007 from an arrhythmia, the result of Long QT Syndrome.    Marcellis Williamson, 22,  a defensive lineman for Ohio University, died in 2011 of what was said to be a heart attack.  Many young adults don't have heart attacks, but they die of an arrhythmic sudden death.  In 1980, Robert Vorhies died at Virginia Tech during a "punishment drill" which was likely to have caused a fluid and electrolyte imbalance and arrhythmic sudden death.    Defensive tackle, Fred Thompson, died at 19 at Oregon State, of cardiac arrhythmia in 2011.   Chris Cooper, a lineman at the University of New Mexico, died at age 19, in 1990, of a cardiac arrest during a workout.  In 2001, DeVaughn Darling, age 19, a linebacker at Florida State University died of a cardiac arrhythmia which may have been complicated by sickle cell anemia.  Garrett Uekman was a 19 year old tight end at the University of Arkansas who died of a cardiac arrest.   Michael Brown was 24 years old when he died of an unspecified heart condition during practice at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1989. Could this also have been an arrhythmic death ?     Many, many others have died playing amateur and professional soccer, and other demanding sports.  The records are just as full of such deaths in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, yet most of us have never heard of such deaths.
              Despite the fact that I was a critical care RN before teaching college medical courses, I knew that a sudden arrhythmia could cause death.  I knew that a beat in the wrong place of the cardiac cycle (known as r on t phenomenon) could cause arrhythmia and death.  I was taught that these were one in a million cases and exceedingly rare.  I was not only not prepared for my youngest son to collapse and die one Black Friday, when nothing seemed wrong in the time leading up to the event.  I wasn't prepared for my daughter's opthalmologist's nurse to have the same thing happen to her own healthy late teen-aged healthy daughter.  I was not prepared for my own doctor's sister in law to succumb to the same issue with no prior history.  I was not prepared for another prof. of nursing to lose a daughter on the track field to arrhythmia.  I was not prepared for a girl two counties over to also arrest due to arrhythmia.   Why is this issue and deaths from the same not quantified in a regional or national database ?  Why are no true tallies being kept ? Why is this not of public health concern ?  In Daniel's case, our local authorities did not even wish to pay for an autopsy, and so his cause of death might always have been simple speculation, and therefore excluded from any database of cardiac arrhythmias.  It was only because we initially agreed to pay for the autopsy at another facility entirely, that we even have the results of an autopsy.   How many people who could not afford one, have had their child's death excluded from the numbers of sudden cardiac arrhythmic death statistics ?
                 An awful lot of kids who play sports have dropped dead due to arrhythmias.  A lot of kids who don't play sports regularly have too.  When is it time to look at these numbers from a public health standpoint ?

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