Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Peyton’s Law passes, raises awareness of the top cause of death for student-athletes

The Peyton Walker Foundation focuses on educating student-athletes and families on preventing Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

In the midst of daily COVID-19 updates, it’s nice to get some uplifting health news.

Today “Peyton’s Law” was signed by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. The law aims to better educate student-athletes and parents on Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) and the importance of Electrocardiogram (EKG) testing.

The law was proposed by The Peyton Walker Foundation, which formed after 19-year-old Mechanicsburg resident Peyton Walker suddenly died from SCA in 2013. Her mother Julie Walker is the executive director and made it her mission to decrease the number of young lives taken by SCA.

“Over the past few years, I’ve met too many moms and dads who lost their children without warning to Sudden Cardiac Arrest,” Walker said in a statement. “Most of their children died from detectable heart conditions that were never diagnosed. Had these parents known to request an EKG as part of their child’s physicals, it’s possible their children would still be alive today.”

According to the foundation, SCA is “the sudden onset of an abnormal and potentially fatal heart rhythm that causes the heart to beat ineffectively or not at all.” It is the number-one killer of student-athletes in the United States and, overall, is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, the foundation states.

Peyton’s Law requires that the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) forms that student-athletes receive must include information on the importance of EKG testing for detecting issues leading to SCA. They will also require an option for a family to request an EKG from their medical provider at their expense. Students and parents must sign these forms before returning them to the school.

In addition, the PA Department of Education must include information on their website about SCA—warning signs and symptoms.

“Our hope is that Peyton’s Law saves even one young life, because if a mom or dad now knows to ask for an electrocardiogram for their child, we will have a beautiful legacy for Peyton and all of the other young lives we lost too soon to sudden cardiac arrest,” Walker said in a statement.

A Sudden Cardiac Arrest Symptoms and Warning Signs form is already included in the Preparticipation Physical Examination (PPE) forms for PIAA as required by the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act passed in 2012. But Peyton’s law adds information about EKG testing as an optional part of sports physicals.

The bill was sponsored by Senator Mike Regan (R-31) who said that Walker’s advocacy and persistence on this issue brought it to state and national attention.

Peyton’s law is based off of Cody’s Law, similar legislation passed in Texas in 2019.

The Peyton Walker Foundation has screened over 3,500 students for health issues leading to SCA. They have also provided Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and CPR training for students as well as donated over 115 AED’s to schools and organizations.

The Peyton Walker Foundation is located at 2929 Gettysburg Rd., Suite 8, Camp Hill. For more information, visit their website.


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