Grieving mom says school physicals need heart exam - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Grieving mom says school physicals need heart exam

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LA JOLLA (CBS 8) - The El Camino High School community in Oceanside continues to mourn the sudden death of 15-year-old Brandon Zapata, who collapsed and died during PE class Monday. In the wake of this tragedy, some are calling for heart tests for their children.

Fifteen-year-old Brandon Zapata recently passed a physical examination, so there was no reason to believe he'd collapse and die while running at school Monday. Rhina Paredes understands how Brandon's parents are feeling right now. She's been there.

"I would have never thought that my 15-year-old athlete, healthy, beautiful son was going to collapse one day and me never see him again," she said.

Eric Paredes died from sudden cardiac arrest.

"Sudden cardiac arrest is where the heart literally stops beating or is not able to beat efficiently," Scripps Green Cardiologist Dr. John Rogers said.

Doctor Rogers says usually the heart beats too fast or too slow, causing a person to lose consciousness. And if it's not stopped, it can be fatal. So I asked him about possible warning signs.

"If a child complains of chest pain with exertion, if a child complains of lightheadedness, dizzy, or have passing out spells at rest of with exertion, if they describe 'I'm always as the back of the pack in the race and I'm always more short of breath than everyone else,'" Dr. Rogers said.

Over 300,000 adults in this country die every year from sudden cardiac arrest -- more than car accidents, or any single form of cancer. There are no numbers for kids because records aren't being kept, but estimates say it could be up to 9,000 a year.

"There are no needles involved; these stickers have a little adhesive that are placed on the chest," Dr. Rogers said.

Doctor Rogers would like to see every high schooler get an EKG so they would know if they're at risk. And right there with him is Eric's parents, who started the Eric Paredes Save a Life Foundation to bring free screenings to local high schools.

"I cannot express how important this is for your child to be tested," Rhina said.

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