Heart Screening for Kids to Decrease the Number of Deaths via Prevention Strategies

The Cause

Across our continent, one young athlete dies from Sudden Cardiac Arrest every three days. My son, Brock Ruether, was one of them. He died at his school during volleyball practice on May 22, 2012. We have been working across Alberta and internationally to change 911 protocol, place AEDs in schools, train students and teachers to perform CPR and use an AED rapidly, and increase awareness of the high number of deaths that result from cardiac arrest in youth. We would like to initiate a trial program of Electro Cardiograms (ECG) heart screening to raise awareness and have this valuable initiative take hold everywhere. Heart screening is being done in certain sectors around the world, and many programs started through the loss of a child. Heart screening is, as yet, unheard of in Canada, and we hope to begin that dialogue. Our hope is to ensure that one day every family has this life saving prevention strategy available to their children.

Who Will it Benefit?

Short term, it will benefit those children screened, as any found to have an abnormality will be instructed to follow up with their doctor and a pediatric cardiologist for further testing. It has been determined through similar screening programs in the US that rates as high as 1 in every 100 children may be at risk. Long term, we hope the initiation of this program will benefit families across Canada through media awareness and promotion of the program following any discovery of heart arrhythmias in screened individuals. Every arrhythmia or heart defect detected may ultimately result in another young life being saved.