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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: July 26, 2019 10:46 AM
From: Senator Mike Regan
To: All Senate members
Subject: Peyton’s Law - Electrocardiogram Testing for Student Athletes
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is reported to be the leading killer of student athletes in the United States and an average of one in 300 student athletes have undetected abnormal heart issues that could lead to SCA.

Every hour of every day we lose a child to SCA, and the majority of those deaths are attributed to detectable and treatable heart conditions that went undiagnosed due to the limited scope of standard sports physicals and well-child check-ups.

This year alone, several SCA tragedies have sadly struck teenaged children in my legislative district. In addition, thousands more have occurred in our state and across the country, mobilizing efforts to not only bring awareness to SCA but to implement prevention measures.

Advocates, parents, and medical professionals recognize that we need to do more to protect student athletes. We can take action to reduce the occurrence of SCA in our children.

In 2013, Peyton Walker, a graduate of Trinity High School in Camp Hill, died of Sudden Cardiac Arrest at the age of 19. Her mother Julie Walker established and now heads The Peyton Walker Foundation, which advocates for the use of electrocardiogram (EKG) testing to screen for underlying electrical issues in the heart that can lead to SCA. The Foundation conducts free EKG screening events at schools across Pennsylvania and has screened several thousand students.

A recently published study that appeared in the Journal of the American Heart Association states that the purpose of cardiovascular screening (electrocardiogram testing) is to “identify or raise suspicion of previously unrecognized and largely genetic or congenital cardiovascular diseases known to cause sudden cardiac arrest and sudden death in young people.” Most experts believe that early detection of potentially lethal disorders can decrease cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

Act 59 of 2012, the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act, recognized the significance of the issue, requiring information be provided to student athletes about SCA. Currently, student athletes and parents receive an SCA symptoms and warning signs information sheet each school year, which must be signed and returned prior to participation in athletic activities.

While ultimately, an EKG test for every student athlete would be ideal, I recognize that such a mandate is not feasible. Therefore, my proposal builds on the important groundwork of Act 59 of 2012.

Based on recently enacted legislation in Texas, my proposal would amend Act 59 to require: 1) information be provided to student athletes regarding electrocardiogram testing and 2) they be notified of the option to request the administration of an electrocardiogram in addition to the standard physical examination.

I am hopeful you will join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation, which will be known as Peyton’s Law, aimed at protecting students and providing them and their families with resources to make informed decisions.

Introduced as SB836