Our son Johannes died of sudden, inexplicable cardiac arrest.
He appeared in excellent health,
was without vices, and was alert to health issues.
Could we have prevented it?
There were, however, two faint foreshadows:
On a routine telephone call to us earlier that week,
he said that
his chronic stomach ache was not related to his South American travels;
he had recently self-diagnosed it as lactose intolerance.
Both folklore and modern medicine teach us that heart problems
are often misdiagnosed and mistreated as stomach problems.
Not likely, we've been assured by a local cardiologist, but we wonder.
His death wasn't very likely either.
Some time in the previous six months he mentioned that he had fainted.
He brushed it off and we cannot recall what he said about it.
In hindsight, this was a clue we should have pursued.
In 2002 it came out that
the best noninvasive
predictor of sudden cardiac arrest
in young athletes is
exercise-related fainting (syncope).
He had fainted once before, about eight years earlier.
If he had fainted more than twice he would have told us.
Cardiac arrest, while rare in young people, does occur,
and is particularly studied in athletes.
In hindsight it is easy to say the condition might
have been screened for and identified in time.
Jos belonged to Gold's Gym,
and came from it in the half hour preceding his death.
health and exercise clubs
could provide a treadmill test to
direct their patrons to a cardiologist?