EYEWITNESS NEWS(WBRE/WYOU)— 7,000 children die from reduced sudden cardiac arrest every year in the U.S. according to the American Heart Association. Death can be prevented if children and parents recognize the warning signs.

Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in student-athletes. There are certain factors that increase a child’s risk, and that’s why being informed about stimulants, EKG testing, and having AEDs on hand at sporting events and schools can make a big difference in saving lives.

It’s hard to forget this shocking scene on January 2 when 24-year-old Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest during an NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

After a medical team administered CPR, the football player was rushed to the hospital where he recovered, but not everyone is as lucky as Damar Hamlin.

“Never in a million years did we think it would happen to our daughter,” said Julie Walker executive director of Peyton Walker Foundation and Peyton’s mom.

Julie Walker lost her daughter, Peyton to sudden cardiac death in 2013 when she was a sophomore at King’s College in Wilkes-barre.

Although Peyton suffered from a genetic heart condition and was under the care of a cardiologist, the family did not expect to lose her to sudden cardiac death.

“So we thought we were doing everything right, once we had the information we thought wow there are other families with kids with heart issues that don’t even know about it and can’t even try to prevent this tragedy,” added Walker.

That’s how the Peyton Walker Foundation was formed. Its mission is to offer free heart screenings for students and athletes in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania. The Peyton Walker Foundation recently sponsored EKG testing at no cost in Wilkes-Barre for kids aged 12-19.

In many cases of sudden cardiac arrests, warning signs are present beforehand.

“They’re playing a sport they’re in gym class dizzy when trying to exercise or they feeling light-headed, pass out, chest pains, palpitations, or unusual shortness of breath these are things they should look at,” explained Kimberly Wood a Physicians Assistant at Geisinger.

Stimulants like caffeine have also been associated with sudden cardiac arrest in young people according to nutritionists at King’s College.

“We’re informing kids about where these stimulants like caffeine, ginseng, and other natural herbal dietary supplements may be found in very commonly consumed energy drinks, other types of foods. these types of substances are not required to be on a label because they’re not nutrients,” says Diane Dellavalle a registered dietician at King’s College.

This one energy drink contains 3 cups of caffeine. When excess caffeine is consumed the heart can become strained, and that can cause sudden cardiac arrest.

“Caffeine increases your heart rate making your heart beat faster, and it could lead to irregular heart rhythm, but it also increases on the acute, short term your core body temperature, so if you’re already exercising that puts additional strain on the body during exercise,” continued Dellavalle.

If someone suffers from sudden cardiac arrest, CPR or an automatic external defibrillator can save a life just like in the case of Damar Hamlin.

“Make sure there’s an AED where your kids play and practice sports..if there’s not demand one…it’s so important we saw what happened to Damar Hamlin, everything worked out perfectly, he was so lucky,” says Walker.

Survival rates were significantly higher when a patient was treated within 3 minutes of sudden cardiac arrest.

For a free CPR, training video check out their website.