Recent death raises awareness of heart condition in children

Recent death raises awareness of heart condition in children
(Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A hidden heart health danger among children is getting a lot of attention right now.

For one in 500 children, too much activity can be deadly, thanks to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

"It is an inherited genetic condition where the heart muscle overgrows, it grows too thick and causes scaring on the heart," explains Dr. Elizabeth Saarel, a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic.

Saarel says the condition often causes an abnormal heart rhythm that can kill almost instantly.

The sudden death of YouTube star, 13-year-old Caleb Logan Bratayley, brought the condition to the forefront.

"It is extremely dangerous. These are healthy young people that would otherwise have a long life and be active and normal," Dr. Saarel says.

She says, in fact, the condition is the most common cause of sudden death in young people, and often develops during puberty.

There is no perfect screening process for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and the symptoms are not distinct: chest pain with activity, shortness of breath, palpitations and fainting.

The most serious and telling symptom is loss of consciousness during physical activity, not after.

That's when Dr. Saarel says that person needs to get to the doctor right away.

It's triggered by adrenaline, can be caused by emotional stress, but, most often from physical exertion.

While the situation with the Bratayley is tragic, cardiologists like Dr. Saarel say the awareness his death brings could be lifesaving for others.

They encourage everyone to learn their family heart history because the condition is often genetic.

Doctors also encourage everyone to push for more A.E.D.S. in public places.

The good news is that most cases are not severe and the treatment is very effective.

Medication and sometimes and implanted defibrillator can help patients lead pretty much normal lives.

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