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Health Spotlight: What you need to know about sudden arrhythmia death syndrome

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Each year, 356,000 Americans die suddenly without warning from cardiac arrhythmias, a genetic disorder that can go undetected.

It’s not always the elderly or unhealthy; sometimes a young person dies.

Tia and Logan Hansen make the most of every moment with their kids, Cove, Lydia and Skylar.

Tia Hansen said, “I just feel grateful that I’ve lived a normal life and so grateful that my kids are just these crazy, fun, awesome kids.”

She’s grateful they are healthy even though all three tested positive for long QT syndrome, a type of sudden arrhythmia death syndrome, a genetic disorder that Tia was diagnosed with when she was 11.

Sudden arrhythmia death syndrome is treatable, usually with just a daily dose of beta blockers.

“At first, it was, it was a really big deal. It was a very scary,” Tia Hansen recalled.

Her aunt was the first to find out she had it, followed by her dad and two of her siblings. That’s not unusual. If someone in your family has sudden arrhythmia death syndrome, their children have a 50% chance of also having it.

Tia Hansen said, “I’ve lived my whole life being perfectly healthy, asymptomatic. The other kids have been perfectly wild kids. You wouldn’t ever guess that they’re on beta blockers.”

Alice Lara runs the SADS Foundation with the mission of getting the word out and “letting people know there’s something to check out as family history is No 1.”

“The important thing is recognition and the warning signs that can cause trouble.”

The main symptoms are fainting; seizures; shortness of breath during exercise; and being startled by doorbells, alarm clocks or telephones.

Susan Etheridge, a pediatric electrophysiologist at the University of Utah, says to watch out for a history of unexpected or unexplained sudden death in the family before the age of 40. “They never put two and two together, and know that that single-car accident or that drowning was in fact a SADS condition.”

This article was created from a script that aired on WISH-TV.