Sudden Cardiac Arrest Screening Recommendations

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) can affect any seemingly healthy student.

The University of Michigan believes that the best course of action to combat sudden cardiac arrest is for health care providers to:

  • Develop and implement screening programs that will identify students at risk for a cardiac condition
  • Promote emergency response programs that will help school faculty and staff respond to a cardiac arrest

The American Heart Association has not recommended electrocardiograms in all student athletes due to a lack of evidence that they are able to reduce the number of sudden deaths.  Rather, the AHA recommends that students undergo a screening that includes a detailed family history, personal history and a physical exam that includes blood pressure measurement and listening to the heart.

We recommend that parents partner with their pediatricians and use the MHSAA questionnaire to evaluate their child to determine their need for a more detailed cardiac evaluation.  There are some people who clearly should have additional cardiac testing and this is a resource to help determine which children should have additional screening, which may consist of an echocardiogram.

The University of Michigan works with primary care providers to:

  • Provide education regarding how to identify children that need a more extensive cardiac evaluation
  • Provide consultative support as to clinical findings, symptoms or family history that might merit additional testing
  • Ensure prompt access to cardiac evaluation and testing for those children that need them

We also work with schools through our Project ADAM Michigan program to help schools prepare for a medical emergency, since not all children will undergo an extensive cardiac evaluation and even the most comprehensive cardiac evaluation will fail to identify all children at risk for a sudden cardiac event.

Take the next step:

  • Talk with your primary care physician about the MHSAA questionnaire and whether a cardiac evaluation is appropriate for your child. 
  • If you don’t currently have a primary care physician, we have U-M physicians available in communities all over Southeast Michigan for your convenience.  Learn more about our Pediatric Primary Care Providers or call 1-877-475-MOTT to speak with one of our patient care advisors.
  • Talk with your school about sudden cardiac arrest preparedness and the presence of AED devices.  Our Project ADAM Michigan program provides resources and guidance for schools in developing AED programs and training staff and faculty on sudden cardiac arrest preparedness.