Genetic heart diseases and sudden cardiac arrest

Defib For Life was founded by highly experienced Victorian MICA Paramedic Andrew White, following the deaths of several young athletes and officials at sporting venues in Victoria, in particular Stephen Buckman, a 19 year old player who collapsed and died from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) while attending training at Rupertswood Football Club in May 2010.

That bit you have heard before. But, it was discovered that Stephen had a genetic condition. It was also discovered due to his death that his sister has the same condition. Stephen died, but his sister is alive because she had the chance to be fitted with an internal defibrillator.

There are a number of heart conditions that can cause Sudden Cardiac Arrest. One group is collectively known as genetic heart diseases. These often affect young people and are caused by an alteration in a gene that is present in the person at birth. Genetic heart diseases include structural heart conditions (e.g. hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, familial dilated cardiomyopathy) and rhythm disorders of the heart (e.g. long QT syndrome, Brugada syndrome). In most of these cases, the first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, children) of the person with disease have a one in two risk of having the same condition. So it is important that a cardiologist checks all first-degree relatives.
How do you know if you have an underlying heart condition?

A few facts might help shape your decision to ask the questions when next at your doctor, or make an appointment specifically to get checked out.

Don’t wait ‘til it’s too late.


A member of the Defib For Life team each weeks spends time researching information to share with our connected audience to continue to educate us on all in the power of having an AED in your community.

2 years or so ago we had a survivor do some work at Defib For Life helping us as we were growing in the community. It was very powerful for us to learn about Sam’s story – a young mum who had a Sudden Cardiac Arrest at the gym. Like many of us, she was getting back in to shape, exercising like she had done many times before – this day was different. Thank goodness there was an AED in the neighbourhood and Sam is seeing her young daughter grow up.

Its great to hear another news outlet looking into this angle too. Listen to his story here – check your gym when you go in for your next workout….is there an AED somewhere on the wall?


Symptoms of Sudden Cardiac Arrest


Sudden cardiac arrest symptoms are often immediate, giving little warning, and are drastic.

  • Sudden collapse
  • No pulse
  • No breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Rarely, other signs and symptoms precede sudden cardiac arrest. These may include fatigue, fainting, blackouts, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness, palpitations or vomiting. But sudden cardiac arrest often occurs with no warning.

What to do if you Suspect Cardiac Arrest?

Call 000, start CPR and apply and Automatic External Defibrillator.

3 Steps

What side of the coin do you want to be on Coach?

With national heart week just concluded its great that there are many conversations going on at work places, at home, with your friends and family. But what if you are a coach? What responsibility do you have to your athletes?

Here are a few tips for Coaches to make sure their clubs rescue ready and that your athletes can feel safe knowing you are prepared!

Check your first aid kit

  • Make sure that all your products within your first aid kit are up to date
  • Who is first aid trained – are their qualifications up to date?
  • Identify your first aid trained and make sure everyone in your club knows who they are – introduce them at training, create a profile of them and share that in your next newsletter

Do you have a Chain of survival?

  • Understanding when you have an emergency on your hands is important. But often its good to practice what you would do in the case of an emergency
  • Do you have a plan, a poster and a process to activate the chain of survival?
  • Ensure coaches, staff, and athletes are being trained in proper safe procedures for cardiac arrest (and other sports related injuries such as concussions, overuse injuries, and heat illness). If coaches have not completed courses on safety, such as CPR, AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) training, and first aid refresher training, involve other parents and school officials to advocate for training.


Heart risks in children

With school going back, we thought we would share some information around the myths and impacts of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in youths, yes in young people.

The first is that a SCA does occur in young, fit children. Currently it claims the life of 2-3 kids a week in Australia and these kids are walking around without showing any symptoms of an unknown heart condition.

“Sudden cardiac death in children and young adults has a devastating impact on families, care providers and the community,” says Professor Chris Semsarian, who led the multinational study.

“It’s a tragedy that claims the lives of two to three young Australians each week.