California law hopes to save lives of teens with deadly heart conditions

Parents, student athletes and coaches will be impacted by a new law that went into effect this month. It hopes to educate families on the danger of heart conditions not tested for during regular physicals.

Here in San Diego, three to five young people lose their lives each year because of heart conditions they didn't know they had. Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) happens without warning and causes a person's heart to suddenly stop beating, stopping the flow of blood to the brain and vital organs.

Rhina Paredes-Greeson is one of the parents who've lost a child.

"I stepped out to go to a doctor's appointment and my husband came back 20 minutes later and found Eric had collapsed on our kitchen floor, that 20-minute span," said Paredes-Greeson

These conditions are not uncovered during a traditional physical but can be diagnosed with an electrocardiogram (EKG) or echocardiogram (echo). The tests help find problems with the heart muscle, valves or rhythm.

She started a nonprofit, Eric Paredes Save a Life Foundation, and has since helped over 23,000 young people get screened for free.

She helped push forward a new law in California that went into effect July 1.

The Eric Paredes Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act does several things:

  • Requires the State Department of Education to post on its website guidelines, videos, and an information sheet on sudden cardiac arrest symptoms and warning signs, and other relevant materials relating to SCA.
  • All students, K-12, who play after school sports organized by the school will receive and sign the Sudden Cardiac Arrest awareness fact sheet. This includes students in all California public, private and charter schools that offer athletic activities.  
  • Requires an athletic director, coach, athletic trainer, or authorized person, as defined, to remove from participation a pupil who passes out or faints while participating in or immediately following an athletic activity.
  • Requires a coach of an athletic activity to complete a sudden cardiac arrest training course every other school year.
  • The bill would impose penalties, on and after July 1, 2019, for a violation of the provision requiring a coach to complete a sudden cardiac arrest training course.

Paredes-Greeson hopes more education will save lives.

"We knew we didn't want to see other parents go through what we had been through."

She encourages families to bring their teens to one of their free screenings. They do up to a thousand children ages 12 to 25 during each event.

Fall screening dates:

  • Sept. 17 - El Capitan High School
  • Oct. 14 - Southwest High School
  • Nov. 12 - UCSD
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