Teen boy basketball players standing on a court talking to a coach.

Lindsay’s Law and Sudden Cardiac Arrest: What Parents Need to Know

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating, cutting off blood flow to the brain and other vital organs. SCA can occur in any physically active individual at any age, including but not limited to young athletes. In the United States, 2,000 children and adolescents die as a result of SCA each year, representing 3 to 5 percent of deaths in children ages 5-19.

In March of 2017, the Ohio Senate passed Bill 252, better known as Lindsay’s Law, to combat these statistics through education and screening protocols.

What is Lindsay’s Law?

Lindsay’s Law aims to reduce the occurrence of SCA in organized sports and activities by requiring education, and in certain cases screening, regarding signs, symptoms and risk factors of SCA. Participants, coaches, and parents are all required to review educational materials to better understand SCA and appropriate emergency responses.

Lindsay’s Law applies to any youth sports organization, as well as athletics at public and private schools.

If you and/or your child participate in organized activities, you will be required to review education materials to better understand sudden cardiac arrest, recognize symptoms and learn how to respond. You may also learn about requirements for clearance for participation if certain signs, symptoms or risk factors are observed. These include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort with exercise/activity
  • Fainting or passing out when related to exercise/activity
  • Excessive or unexplained shortness of breath, excessive fatigue or palpitations associated with exercise, including a racing heart
  • Prior history of a heart murmur, prior heart evaluation or prior restrictions from competitive sports due to a heart condition
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history identifying one or more relatives with early death that was sudden before age 50 because of heart disease, or unexpected and unexplained (drowning, single car accident, etc).
  • Family history of certain heart conditions including hypertrophic or dilated cardiomyopathy, Long QT Syndrome, Brugada syndrome, Marfan’s syndrome or significant rhythm problems.

Know the Signs and Symptoms of heart disease that causes SCA

It’s important that active children and adolescents and those supervising them know when a SCA may be taking place and how to report symptoms suspicious for heart disease that can cause a SCA. Signs and symptoms commonly occur prior to a sudden cardiac arrest, so being aware and proactive is a key step in preventing SCA. The following signs and symptoms are suspicious for heart disease that can cause SCA:

  • Chest pain or discomfort during activity/exercise
  • Fainting during or after activity/exercise
  • Unexplained fatigue with activity/exercise
  • Excessive shortness of breath with activity/exercise
  • Palpitations or a racing heart with activity/exercise


Work With Your School or Program to Get Educated and Make a Plan

Your school or program will receive information and protocols on Lindsay’s Law. You can work with this organization to make sure that there is a plan in place if there is a sudden cardiac arrest event.

Nationwide Children’s cardiologists lead Project ADAM (Automated Defibrillators in Adam’s Memory) Ohio, a program designed to support schools and organizations in creating safe and reliable protocols to react to a sudden cardiac arrest event. Across the nation, Project ADAM helps schools implement programs to make automated external defibrillators (AEDs) readily available. More information about how your school can become a Heart Safe School can be found at NationwideChildrens.org/Project-Adam.

While it is not possible to prevent every sudden cardiac arrest, we can help prevent sudden cardiac death by developing adequate emergency action plans. SCA is fatal if not treated immediately. The presence of an AED is essential for the survival of someone experiencing SCA. The use of an AED within 5 minutes after an SCA is more effective at saving not only a life, but the quality of life and brain function as well.

Cardiologists at Nationwide Children’s recommend the following emergency action plan:

  • Call 9-1-1, report symptoms to the dispatcher (send someone to get the AED while you call if possible)
  • Immediately begin CPR
  • Retrieve AED and follow AED prompts as soon as possible.
  • Use AED as soon as possible, ideally within 3-5 minutes to have the best success in restoring proper heart rhythm.

For more information and resources on Lindsay’s Law and Sudden Cardiac Arrest, visit NationwideChildrens.org/SCA.

Naomi Kertesz, MD
Naomi Kertesz, MD, is Director of Electrophysiology and Pacing at The Heart Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital. She is Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Dr. Kertesz received her medical degree from Northwestern University. After completing her residency at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, she received her fellowship training for both pediatric cardiology and pediatric electrophysiology at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital. Dr. Kertesz's area of clinical expertise includes the diagnosis and management of arrhythmias, including radiofrequency and cryoablation of supraventricular and ventricular arrhythmias. Her depth of experience includes experience in 3 dimensional mapping and remote navigational mapping with ablation and in the implantation and follow-up of pacemakers and implantable cardiac defibrillators. Her research interests include the long term follow up of children with congenital AV block and the long-term follow-up of patients with pacemakers and defibrillators. Dr. Kertesz is certified in Pediatric Cardiology and Pediatrics.
Anastasia Fischer, MD, FACSM
Anastasia Fischer, MD, FACSM, is a member of the Division of Sports Medicine in the Section of Ambulatory Pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Dr. Fischer attended medical school at The Ohio State University College of Medicine before completing a family practice residency at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a primary care sports medicine fellowship at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine. She is fellowship trained and board certified in sports medicine, and is a member of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and the American College of Sports Medicine, where she has been appointed fellow. She is active in the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Midwest Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine, where she sits on the board of directors, and the Female Athlete Triad Coalition. She has a special interest in research and advocacy regarding the adolescent female athlete. Dr. Fischer is a volunteer physician with the Greater Ohio Bicycle Adventure and the Tour de Grandview and also serves as team physician at Groveport Madison High School in the central Ohio area.

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