U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J. 6th District, has rolled out legislation to create a national plan to deal with sudden cardiac arrest among student athletes.

Pallone says sudden cardiac arrest is more widespread than you may think. In fact, it's the leading cause of death among high school students.

He says 600,000 people have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and there are nearly a million with other conditions that can cause SCA.

"We estimate there are about 30,000 kids nationally that have this silent killer. The problem is that it is not often diagnosed, which is why we need to have screening for student athletes to see if they may have it. Also, a better treatment."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one student athlete in America falls victim to sudden cardiac arrest every three to four days.

Pallone's legislation being introduced in Congress as the Cardiomyopathy Health Education, Awareness, Research and Training, or HEART Act, would help counteract SCA by creating more awareness, providing educational materials for schools and proposed treatment.

Pallone announced the legislation Monday at Metuchen High School alongside the grandmother of Kittim Sherrod, an Edison High School student and football star who died in 2009 after going into cardiac arrest during track and field practice.

The announcement came weeks after 16-year-old Holmdel lacrosse player Jack Dowd dropped dead on the field as a result of undiagnosed arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, a rare form of cardiomyopathy.

Pallone's bill would also raise awareness and create a strategy for response in schools when a student is stricken.

"The most important thing is that student athletes be screened for it, which can be done, and that they be trained to use the defibrillators in case of an attack."

Since September 2014, all public and private K-12 schools in New Jersey are required to have an automatic external defibrillator (AED) on site.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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