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W

es Leonard had just made a game-winning layup in overtime, ensuring

an undefeated 20-0 season for his high school basketball team. Moments later, the 16-year-old junior collapsed on the gym floor, and the overjoyed shouts of the home crowd at Fennville High School in Michigan quickly turned to stunned horror. He died a short time later at an area hospital. An autopsy report confirmed the cause of death as cardiac arrest due to an enlarged heart. Leonard’s devastating story made national news because of how and where he died, but that same weekend in March 2011, at least four other high school athletes in towns across the country also died of the same cause.

Basketball Players © 46170160 / Shutterstock.com

est. The worda s cardiacso arr Sudden connected with when ing, but even more

alone are chill in many cases, victim who is barely old enough to drive and, even younger. approximately The facts are sobering. Each year in the U.S., high school the at ts even tic athle 5 million students compete in from dies te athle nt stude level. Some sources estimate one s related death most with , days sudden cardiac arrest every three rican Ame The . ition cond to an underlying cardiovascular are no rock solid Heart Association reports that, although there in 200,000 high one ately oxim numbers, it is believed that appr cardiac arrest. en sudd from year school-aged athletes die each s among death en sudd atic The majority of non-traum ities. Young rmal abno ac cardi g athletes are related to pre-existin ght to be thou rate a at death d athletes suffer sudden unexpecte While . peers ctive less-a their two to three times greater than ion can exert ical phys ts, defec ac exercise itself doesn’t cause cardi re. endu can it what nd beyo t hear push an already compromised g youn in death of ent) perc (36 e The most common caus M), a condition athletes is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HC can lead to and le musc t hear that causes thickening of the nal Heart Natio the to rding heart rhythm disturbances. Acco condition, the have ren child 500 Lung and Blood Institute, 1 in young all in death en sudd of e and HCM is the leading caus

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