What are the symptoms?In most cases their are no symptoms.  As in Robby's case, the first symptom was his death.  However, in some cases, there are symptoms that are either ignored or misdiagnosed.  Shortness of breath while exercising, chest pain or discomfort,dizziness(during or shortly after physical activity),fainting or rapid heartbeats (palpitations), unusual fatigue or tiredness.

What is HCM?  HCM stands for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. It is a heart disease where the walls of the heart begin to thicken.  The harder the athlete works out, the harder the heart works to pump the blood and just like with any other muscle in your body, the harder you work it, the bigger it gets.  Eventually, the walls of the heart get so thick that they cut off the supply of blood from one side of the heart to the other, causing Sudden Cardiac Arrest.
What is SCA?  SCA stands for Sudden Cardiac Arrest.  It is the sudden, unexpected loss of heart function, breathing, and consciousness.  SCA ususally results from an electrical disburbance in your heart that disrupts its pumping action, stopping blood flow to the rest of your body.  If normal heart function is not restored within minutes, the SCA will most likely lead to SCD or Sudden Cardiac Death.
What can be done to prevent SCD? 
- ​
A simple test called an ECG (electrocardiogram) can help detect potentially life threatening heart conditions.  An electrocardiogram is a test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart.  An EKG translates the heart's electrical activity into line tracings on paper.  The spikes and dips in the line tracings are called waves.-Knowledge of personal and family health history of unexpected sudden death during physical activity or during a seizure, or any other unexplained death of an otherwise healthy family member under age 50.

- Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and how to use and AED​​

- Additional Tests done to confirm a diagnosis are Echocardiogram (ultrasound), Genetic Testing, Exercise Stress Testing, Ambulatory ECG Monitors and MRI or CT Scans.
Why isn't it mandatory for all students to get an ECG test as part of their school physical?  The test can be costly and most insurance companies will not cover the cost of an ECG unless there is a family history of early heart disease/death.  Also, there is a 2% false-positve result ratio.  That means that 2% of the ECG's done result in a misdiagnosis and after further testing the patient is cleared.  The authorities believe that this leads to undo stress on the patient and may also keep healthy athletes from competing. 
How and where can I get my children tested?  You can start by asking your family doctor to order an ECG when you take your child for their annual physical.  Check with your insurance carrier to make sure they will cover the cost first.  Or if you are lucky enough to live in Burbank or Stickney Township, the Stickney Health Clinic does offer free ECHO Screenings on Wednesdays (by appointment only).  Temporarily suspended.  Finally, there are organizations like Young Hearts for Life that offer free ECG Screenings to high school students.  To learn more about Young Hearts for Life go to their website at
Who is at risk for SCA?   Physically active young children and competitive athletes are the most susceptible but all children can be affected, including infants.  SCA can strike persons of any age, gender or race, including those that seem in good health and at peak physical fitness.  Most youth with undetected heart conditional typically appear very healthy.  Many youth never exhibit any signs or symptoms until SCA occurs.  SCA is the leading cause of death in young athletes.
What are the most common causes of SCA in seemingly healthy youth?
First there are structural causes:
-Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)
-Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD)
-Congenital Coronary Artery Abnormalties (CAA)
​​​​-Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
-Marfan Syndrome
-Mitral Valve Prolapse

The second are electrical causes:
-Long Q-T Syndrome (LQTS)
-Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW)
-Brugada Syndrome
-Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia (CPVT)​​​​​​​​​

-Drugs or Stimulants

Finally all youth are at risk while at play:
-Commotio Cordis is a condition that causes SCA if a blow to the chest occurs at a critical point when the heart is electrically recharging.  It can occur with impact of very little force.  It is usually caused by a baseball, lacrosse ball or hockey puck despite the use of a chest protector.​​​​​​
How often should my children be tested? The best interval has not yet been determined.  However it is recommended that your child have an EKG every 18 months to two years.
What additional test are used to confirm diagnosis after screening by EKG?  An Echocardiogram, which is basically an ultra sound of the heart, is usually the next test performed.  Then there is usually a stress test or EKG halters, MRI's and CT Scans performed, if needed.
What about Genetic Testing?If there is a family history, you may want to consider this route to identify an inherited condition that causes SCA.  But this is costly and most insurance companies do not cover genetic testing.