Surviving Sudden Cardiac Arrest on the Sports Field

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in high school athletes doesn’t happen often – it occurs in approximately one in every 100,000 athletes. However, two Batesville High School athletes suffered from SCA within months of each other.

Max Rucker, a linebacker for the Batesville High School Pioneers, and Raegan Sweet, a Batesville High School cheerleader, both collapsed from SCA during practice – just eight months apart. Batesville athletic trainer, Keith Shireman, performed CPR on both athletes – something most high school athletic trainers will never experience once in their career, much less twice.

Arkansas Children’s Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Tamara T. Bradford explained, “Because of the quick reaction of the athletic trainer and use of AEDs (automated external defibrillators), neither child had any neurological deficits.” Both students required implantation of internal defibrillators at Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) that recognize arrhythmia’s in the heart and deliver a shock to get the heart back in rhythm.

Although SCA is rare, student-athletes’ risk of SCA is nearly four times that of non-athletes. Many times it happens unexpectedly, but some children may show some signs and symptoms such as:

  • fainting or seizures during exercise
  • unexplained shortness of breath
  • racing heart
  • dizziness
  • chest pains
  • extreme fatigue 

Fox 16 followed the story of Batesville community that is coming together to raise money for AEDs. 

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Patient Story - Arkansas Children's Hospital