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Policy Statement Issued on Pediatric Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Pediatricians need to be able to identify signs; refer to a specialist center for management, as necessary

MONDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- Pediatricians need to recognize the warning signs and appropriately manage patients with sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), according to a policy statement issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and published online March 26 in Pediatrics.

Robert Campbell, M.D., and colleagues from the AAP's Section on Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery, drafted a policy statement on pediatric SCA in an effort to increase pediatricians' knowledge of the incidence and spectrum of causes of SCA as well as disease-specific presentations, the role of screening and genetic testing, and aspects of secondary prevention.

The authors report that approximately 2,000 patients younger than 25 will die of SCA each year, with some studies indicating an increase in SCA. Pediatricians should be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of SCA; understand the role of a comprehensive and accurate family history; use standardized forms before participation in sports to minimize variation; and ensure patients and/or families with SCA are referred to a specialist center for further evaluation and management. Secondary prevention may include electrocardiography, echocardiography, exercise testing, and/or genetic testing, as necessary. Autopsy evaluation is recommended, and procurement and retention of DNA-bearing tissues is encouraged for autopsy-negative cases. Pediatricians should support education programs and development of effective school emergency response programs, and also consider participation in school programs. In addition, they should encourage development of a central registry for pediatric SCA as well as recommendations for evidence-based evaluation of national screening programs.

"All steps in the primary and secondary SCA-prevention strategies should be optimized if pediatric SCA is to be prevented," the authors conclude.

One of the authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

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