Student Athlete’s Death Draws Comparisons To Others Around The Country

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SPRINGDALE (KFSM) -- The sudden death of Lakeside Junior High student Adia Smith has left the Springdale School District in shock.

"There were no prior signs. There were no indications," said principal Michael Shepherd. "This was one of those things. It was even a little while into practice."

Smith's cause of death has not been released, but does sound familiar to other student athlete deaths that have occurred across the country.

Sudden cardiac death has been a leading cause of death among student athletes.

"It's currently being studied aggressively," said Dr. Clinton Turner, who specializes in sports medicine. "Part of our issue is trying to figure out what does occur."

There are many causes of sudden cardiac death, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Turner said it occurs in one in every one to 300,000 high school athlete deaths.

"Finding out how often it occurs is part of the issue because we don't track them nationally," Turner said. "The next issue is when you're looking at something after the fact. You don't always get the full picture."

Turner said a yearly physical for student athletes is the best hope of detecting signs that could cause issues down the road.

Promising research has shown EKG screenings could be used one day, but currently predicting who will suffer a sudden cardiac arrest is a challenge.

"It's a very unknown area in medicine," Turner stressed. "We can figure out the cause in about half, but as far as how to prevent them without knowing the true cause every time makes it very difficult."