Basketball star's death prompts concern about cardiac issues - Dallas News |

Young basketball star's death prompts concern about cardiac issues

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The sudden death of a young basketball star has rocked Georgia's basketball community. Terrell Coleman's death has concerned parents asking if their own student athlete could be at risk for sudden cardiac death.

Coleman garnered national attention for his stellar basketball skills. The 15-year-old student at Lithonia's Miller Grove High School died after collapsing during an all-star game in Stone Mountain on Sunday. Autopsy results are pending, but Coleman's mother said he was diagnosed with a heart condition about a year ago.

Sudden cardiac death (SCD), which occurs when the heart stops functioning normally, affects approximately 500 children and adolescents a year and can prove fatal.

Dr. Robert Campbell, chief of cardiac services at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta says SCD is usually caused by an undiagnosed congenital or acquired health disorder. It can be difficult to detect during a routine sports physical.

Campbell said a key warning sign is if there are any other family members who have had a sudden, unexplained death before they were 50.

"Second, is there any history of passing out or seizure, especially if it's due to sudden startle or emotion or exercise," Campbell said. "Third would be is there any unusual or unexplained or persistent exercise-related chest pain or shortness of breath."

Children's Hospital is working to help schools identify at-risk youth through Project S.A.V.E, promoting the prevention of SCD through comprehensive pre-participation physicals of student athletes for conditions which may lead to sudden cardiac death. Those physicals also detail family health history.

"There is a long list of diseases, very rare cardiac disorders, that can sometimes run in families that can put you and other family members -- diagnosed or undiagnosed --  at risk for sudden cardiac arrest as the first presenting finding," Campbell said. "

Those problems include electrical, structural, valve or heart muscle issues.

"Many of them are genetic so the emphasis of knowing details of the family history and warning signs is really important," Campbell said.

Click here for more information on warning signs from Project S.A.V.E.

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