Twin Cities family reaffirms heart health awareness message after Damar Hamlin’s collapse

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Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin’s collapse – attributed to cardiac arrest – played out on a national stage Monday night, but similar incidents happen everywhere, from hockey rinks to shopping malls to workplaces and homes.

The American Heart Association says hundreds of thousands of Americans die from a cardiac arrest each year, making the sudden heart stoppage one of the leading causes of death in the country.

That’s why the Patrick Schoonover Foundation is working to spread awareness and take preventive action.

In 2014, Patrick Schoonover had just scored the first goal of the game at a hockey tournament in Brainerd when he collapsed on the ice. They later discovered he had a number of undetected heart defects that had caused his death.

Since then, members of the foundation have been working to spread heart health awareness around the metro. 

“It’s heartbreaking to see what happened on national television. It took us back to when our son collapsed on the ice eight years ago,” said Mike Schoonover, Patrick’s dad and director of the Patrick Schoonover Heart Foundation.

The foundation has performed more than 3,000 heart screens on student athletes. Members also promote having AEDs in public places and learning CPR.

RELATED: Free screenings help youths get in touch with their heart health

“When we are out in regular places watching our kids play sports, and one of our kids goes down, we are not going to have all that expertise on the sidelines,” Mike Schoonover said.

“We have to be the ones to spring into action, that’s what we are trying to make people aware of.”

Visit the foundation’s website HERE to find out how you can join the efforts or make individual strides toward heart health preparedness.

Learn about sudden cardiac arrest from the Mayo Clinic HERE.