Sudden cardiac arrest is the most common cause of death in the United States. A free screening program offered by Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Pemberton is aimed at preventing it in New Jersey teens.


Dr. Raffaele Corbisiero, division director of electrophysiology and pacing at Deborah, put the seriousness of the issue into perspective.

"The Breast Cancer Awareness has done a great job, and we have about 40,000 a year from breast cancer. Sudden cardiac arrest is over 350,000 deaths a year," said Corbisiero.

Most of the victims are adults, but Corbisiero pointed out, "up to 7,000 of them can be young people, and in athletes, the risk is three times higher than in the kids that are non-athletes."

Most sudden cardiac arrest cases usually involve an inherited condition that is brought out by physical stress, issues that Corbisiero noted can be treated if detected through a screening.

"Not only to you have to be aware of the problem, but aware of the therapy. The reason it's called 'sudden' is because this rhythm disturbance from the bottom part of the heart arises and things happen very quickly and very badly in several minutes," Corbisiero said.

Places where sporting events are held, including schools, must be equipped with an automated external defribillator, or AED, which can help save a life.

Free screenings offered to high school students and athletes entails a thorough medical history of the teen as well as his or her family history, a routine electrocardiogram to look at how the heart beats, and if needed, an echocardiogram, or ultrasound of the heart.

Electrical and structural issues are among the inherited concerns involving young people and can be corrected with medications or a special implantable device to prevent the worst outcome, which Corbisiero said "is dying in an unexplained fashion."

Deborah is hosting a free screening from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Toms River High School South cafeteria, 212 Hooper Ave. The event is open to anyone aged 12 to 19, regardless if they are a student in the district..

Pre-registration is required and can be done at For additional information, call 609-893-3372.

Contact reporter Dianne DeOliveira at


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