By Dana Dean
St. Louis, MO (KSDK) - Young, athletic children are collapsing and dying because their heart stops. It's a rare affliction requiring schools to take precautions by investing in defibrillators.
Doctors say over 300,000 adults and children die each year from Sudden Cardiac Arrest. In 2006, it happened to 15-year-old DJ Chastain from Lincoln County.
Chastain collapsed and died on his school basketball court. His mother says the school had an Automated External Defibrillator, which can shock the heart back to a normal rhythm, but it was locked in an office.
In 2010, 13-year-old Austin Redd collapsed in gym class at Francis Howell Middle School from Sudden Cardiac Arrest. His mother says he survived because the school's AED was on hand.
Austin had a birth defect that went undetected until the day he collapsed. Doctors say the most common cause of Sudden Cardiac Arrest in children is a thick heart, which is hereditary. And kids can be tested.
"Routine screening electrocardiograms are not warranted, but in a kid who is having symptoms or a kid who has an abnormal family history, we certainly do look to screening electrocardiograms," said
Dr. Jennifer Silva, St. Louis Children's Hospital.
Symptoms include passing out, heart racing out of proportion to the activity, and a strange-sounding murmur.