The stories of some who fell victim to sudden cardiac arrest filled the K-State Alumni Center’s banquet room as the Anthony Bates Foundation offered free heart screenings in honor of Anthony Bates, a K-State football player who died of a heart attack in July 2000 at 20 years old.
“Each year, 369,000 people in the United States die due to sudden cardiac arrest,” Erin Hensley, a representative from Cardiac Science, said. “And one athlete dies every three days from cardiovascular disorders.”
The Parent Heart Watch stories around the room covered victims, from children who died of cardiac arrest before their first birthday to student athletes and those in their twenties.
“I’m a co-founder of Parent Heart Watch,” Sharon Bates, the mother of Anthony Bates, said before running to take a patient’s blood pressure.
According to www.anthonybates.org, Parent Heart Watch is the “nation voice of protecting youth from sudden cardiac arrest.” The organization was formed by parents to protect youth from sudden cardiac arrest.
According to the Parent Heart Watch stories, Anthony got in his truck after a light workout in the K-State weight room and had a sudden cardiac arrest while driving home, and crashed his truck. Physicians worked to revive him for three hours at the hospital before declaring hypertrophic cardiomyopathy as the cause of death.
Anthony was described in the story as a “young, strong and a dedicated athlete. Sadly, his perfect health was an illusion.”
According to the website, there are no symptoms or complaints that are unique to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. When symptoms do occur, they will consist of shortness of breath, chest pain, a racing heart and dizziness or fainting.
The heart screening waiting room was filled with K-State athletes, student-athletes from surrounding area high schools and concerned members from the community who were taking advantage of the free heart screenings.
Many volunteers from groups such as the K-State marching band, Little Apple Pilot’s Club and Bate’s family assisted with the large crowd.
“It doesn’t matter who we are or where we’re from,” a volunteer, who wished to remain anonymous, said. “Sharon is just running around trying to save lives so other parents don’t have to go through what she did. I’m a parent who wants to help that cause. We all have a reason.”
Jan Lutz, Anthony’s aunt, was volunteering in any way she could throughout the event.
“I have seen firsthand the lives that Sharon has saved,” Lutz said. “That kind of thing keeps you going. People don’t know there could be a time bomb in their chest, so awareness of these heart screenings is crucial. It gives them and us a peace of mind.”
Screenings consisted of blood pressure checks, an echocardiogram, which is a test that uses ultrasound waves to produce a visual of the heart, and a consultation with a doctor.
“This is a great opportunity to be safe,” D.J. Johnson, K-State basketball player and senior in city planning, said. “I know [the story of Anthony] and this is a way to make sure there is nothing wrong and prevent that kind of situation.”
K-State freshmen and incoming transfer athletes were all encouraged to get screened, Johnson said.
“I came as a freshman to be checked, but it has been a few years so I’m getting checked again,” he said.
The next biggest challenge after getting people screened, Hensley said, is making sure people know what to do if someone they are around has a sudden cardiac arrest.
“It is not a law for (automated external defibrillators) — the only way prevent deaths from sudden cardiac arrest — to be in all buildings; Kansas has been the worst state for me to work with in making this a requirement,” Hensley said. “I encourage everyone to locate their nearest (automated external defibrillator) in their schools and places of work. If there is not one, ask why. It can save a life.”
After patients were given a free heart screening, Hensley taught how to use the defibrillators and how to give CPR in case of an emergency.
“Defibrillation shocks given within three minutes of cardiac arrest raises survival chances by over 70 percent,” Hensley said. “Waiting just 10 minutes to shock the victim is enough time for death to occur. And 10 minutes is the average time it takes for 911 to respond. That is too late in these cases.”
According to the website, head football coach Bill Snyder endorsed the Anthony Bates Foundation and has made automated external defibrillators available in the football complex. The trainers carry units to practice, and other defibrillator units are available in locations throughout campus. The universal logo for automated external defibrillators is a red heart with a white lightning bolt-like symbol through it.
“Don’t be afraid to grab an (automated external defibrillator) and shock someone when they have a cardiac arrest,” Hensley said. “That is half the battle, getting people to not be afraid. But the machine knows not to shock someone unless the victim actually needs it. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.”