Because I have two teenagers who are active in an extremely strenuous sport and one of them (Number Two Son) started complaining about chest pains, I started reading an article with a title about children dropping dead from exercise. What caught my attention was a story inside about a family who lost two sons to Pediatric Cardiomyopathy. I can’t imagine losing one son much less two, but Lisa Yue and her husband Eddie Yu moved beyond mourning and acceptance to starting the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation, which is dedicated to driving research on this disease and to provide services and information to sufferers of this disease and their families.
So what is Pediatric Cardiomyopathy? As the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation explains, it is a thickening or enlargement of the heart muscle in children that can lead to irregular heartbeats or heart failure. The cause varies or is completely unknown, but there can be a genetic component – the Yu family lost their first son Bryan at 11 months and their second son Kevin at 9 months. Some 2,000 people in the US under the age of 25 die of sudden cardiac arrest, according to the statistics in the NBC article, with around 30,000 children in the US who are estimated to be affected by the disease.
After losing two sons, Eddie Yu and Lisa Yue went on to have four kids, adopting two. One of the driving forces behind setting up the foundation was the lack of information on Pediatric Cardiomyopathy at the time when their sons died. The Children Cardiomyopathy Foundation has been around since 2002. For more on Pediatric Cardiomyopathy, see the foundation’s website, which provides information not just on disease information, but on current research and support services.
So what happened to Number Two Son? We took him to his pediatrician, she diagnosed him with Costochondritus, an inflammation of the cartilage around the sternum that has symptoms that mimic heart conditions. That was a relief. If you have an young athlete in the Bay Area and you are concerned with heart health, UCSF Medical Center’s PlaySafe program offers cardiac screenings that aren’t typically done in the usual sports physical. These screenings have found a number of young athletes with serious heart problems.