Sudden Death in the Young: Information for the Primary Care Provider

Pediatrics. 2021 Jul;148(1):e2021052044. doi: 10.1542/peds.2021-052044. Epub 2021 Jun 21.


There are multiple conditions that can make children prone to having a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) or sudden cardiac death (SCD). Efforts have been made by multiple organizations to screen children for cardiac conditions, but the emphasis has been on screening before athletic competition. This article is an update of the previous American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement of 2012 that addresses prevention of SCA and SCD. This update includes a comprehensive review of conditions that should prompt more attention and cardiology evaluation. The role of the primary care provider is of paramount importance in the evaluation of children, particularly as they enter middle school or junior high. There is discussion about whether screening should find any cardiac condition or just those that are associated with SCA and SCD. This update reviews the 4 main screening questions that are recommended, not just for athletes, but for all children. There is also discussion about how to handle post-SCA and SCD situations as well as discussion about genetic testing. It is the goal of this policy statement update to provide the primary care provider more assistance in how to screen for life-threatening conditions, regardless of athletic status.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bereavement
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / genetics
  • Child
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / prevention & control*
  • Family / psychology
  • Genetic Testing
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Physician's Role
  • Physicians, Primary Care
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Primary Prevention
  • Risk Factors
  • Secondary Prevention