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Sudden Cardiac Deaths in Student Athletes

7 Apr

I have noticed in the news lately accounts of student athletes who have suddenly died during sporting events.

Wes Leonard was the most recent of these tragedies.  After hitting the game winning shot, the 16 year-old collapsed on the court and later died.

Not only is this terribly tragic but also incredibly concerning.  My initial reaction was why?!  What is causeing this?  Why now? I found this really informative article in the New York Times Health section yesterday that addressed a research study regarding sudden cardiace deaths in student athletes.

The article said that while it has been more common in the new lately, that the rates have not actually increased.  The number they gave for the typical number of student athletes who die during sporting events was still a lot higher than I expected.  They said that 1 in every 43,770 National Collegiate Athletic Association student-athletes (ages ranging from 17 to 23) experience sudden cardiac death per year.

It also said that black athletes and Division I basketball players were at the highest risk.  They reported that the number of black athletes that die as a result of sudden cardiac failure are 1 in 18,000!  They said the reason for this could be an increased incidence of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is when parts of the heart muscle become think, making the heart have to work harder to get blood to pump.

Something that the article suggested in reducing the prevalence of this is having all athletes screened for cardiac abnormalities prior to participation in any sports.

The Fast Food Frenzy

23 Feb

For many teens, fast food is an integral part of their life.  Whether it’s going across the street to Burger King during lunch release with some friends or stopping by McDonald’s on their way home from practice to grab a quick bite, fast food infiltrates all of our lives at one point or another.  This doesn’t change the fact that fast food is some of the most unhealthy, caloricaly compact, and nutritionally deficient food that we can possible consume.  Fast food industries purposefully target teens because of their busy lifestyles and desire for instant gratification making them a high-risk population for the negative effects of fast food.

One particular article I found talked about how fast food industries offer “values” which encourage consumers to buy more in order to get the most for their  money.  The danger of this nearly always overlooked even by the health conscious.  These “values” often contain the recommended amount of calories for an entire day, but contain hardly any nutrients and way too much sodium and fat.  Trying to get the best “value” for your money at a fast food restaurant is dangerous, but especially to young people who can create lasting habits and health problems.

The fact that fast food is unhealthy for us is not news.  This does not change the fact that for many, especially teens, fast food is unavoidably a part of their life.  For that reason I have included this article where you can learn about healthier, low calorie fast food options. Some other things that I recommend to help fight against the fast food frenzy include:

– Pack a snack for after school or practice so that you are not tempted to grab something on your way home

– Limit the number of times you frequent fast food (try cutting it in half or picking a set amount of visits per month)

– Use the nutrition facts posted online or at the restaurant to help you choose healthier options when you do get fast food

– Get a water to drink instead of a soda or other beverage

– Avoid “value” menus and choose items from the dollar menu when possible (they are usually smaller in size)