More than 2,000 teenagers die from sudden cardiac arrest in the U.S. each year, according to the Connecticut Post. And now the state of Connecticut is trying to do its part to limit that number, particularly in high school student-athletes.

Under a new bill approved last week by the state's legislative Children's Committee, parents would get lists of warning signs and high school coaches would be required to take annual online tutorials on the dangers of sudden cardiac arrest.

According to the Connecticut Post, the bill was inspired by the 2011 death of Andy Pena, a 14-year-old high school track athlete who died while running on a treadmill during a trip with his family. Nearly two years later it was discovered that Pena had myocarditis, a rare condition that results in inflammation and damage to muscles in the heart.

The Connecticut bill would also require coaches to immediately remove students who exhibit warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest from intramural and interscholastic athletic events. Failing to remove a student who is showing symptoms would be grounds for a coach's dismissal.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest are typically obvious and include:

  • Sudden collapse
  • No pulse
  • No breathing
  • Loss of consciousness

But there can be more subtle symptoms, as well. "These may include fatigue, fainting, blackouts, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness, palpitations or vomiting," it says on the clinic's website. "But sudden cardiac arrest often occurs with no warning."

Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, a supporter of the bill called it a, "small and simple step, but a very important step that will hopefully save lives."

Meanwhile, Rep. Whitt Betts, R-Bristol, says he voted against the bill because it might discourage people from becoming coaches.

The bigger issue according to Rep. Diana Urban, D-North Stonington, is the need for more defibrillators to be purchased by schools around the state.

With the bill having passed the Children's Committee, it now heads to the state Senate. Athletic Business will keep you updated on the progress of the bill.

Michael Gaio is eMedia Editor of Athletic Business.