'Her heart stopped': Illinois Congressman Sean Casten reveals teen daughter Gwen Casten's cause of death

'Her heart stopped': Illinois Congressman Sean Casten reveals teen daughter Gwen Casten's cause of death
Illinois Congressman Sean Casten lost his daughter Gwen Casten, 17, to rare cardiac arrhythmia disease (teamcasten/Instagram)

SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS: Illinois Democratic Congressman Sean Casten has announced the cause of his teenage daughter Gwen Casten’s death in a statement. The young girl suffered a cardiac arrhythmia in June while asleep, revealed the family statement. This rare condition with almost zero symptoms claims about 2,000 young lives under the age of 25 each year in the US, according to CDC. 

“This past June, our daughter, Gwen Casten, died of a sudden cardiac arrhythmia. In layman’s terms, she was fine, and then her heart stopped," shared the Casten family in a statement. According to the Mayo Clinic, a cardiac arrhythmia, which means an irregular heartbeat, "can feel like a fluttering or racing heart and maybe harmless."

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The congressman further said, “We don’t know what caused the arrhythmia, and likely never will. Following dinner with her parents and a night out with friends, Gwen passed away peacefully in her sleep. According to the Casten family statement, “Sudden, unexplained heart-failure among young, healthy people is rare but real. We are left grasping at the wrong end of a random chance.” “She had a big, beautiful, kind, loving heart. And it stopped, as all must.”

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Gwen, 17, was a healthy teenager and had been vaccinated for Covid-19, reported the Daily Mail. The statement further stated, "ate well, exercised, got regular check-ups and didn't suffer from any behavioral health issues." "We are heartbroken, but not unique," alluding to the fact that millions of people in the US suffer from cardiac arrhythmia each year.

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What makes cardiac arrhythmia condition so deadly?

Cardiac arrhythmia leads the heart to beat irregularly, where the normal electrical signals that tell the heart to pump blood to the lungs or the rest of the body fail. This makes the heart lose its usual rhythm.

Several factors that can contribute to arrhythmia comprises of blocked arteries, heart attack, diabetes, infection with Covid-19, sleep apnea, and stress and anxiety. There are different versions to arrhythmias, however, the most common is atrial fibrillation, known as AFib. As per the reports, AFibs cause up to 460,000 hospitalizations every year in the US, and are a contributing factor in 150,000 deaths. Its treatment can include medication to surgeries and in some cases may involve implanted devices to manage and control heart rate.

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Casten further said on Gwen’s passing, “None of us know when our last heartbeat will come. The best we can hope for is that when our loved ones do pass, we will have no regrets about the time we were lucky enough to share.” “Hug the folks you love a little harder today. Be present in their lives. And spread your love a little farther. Because in the end, it's all that remains,” the emotional statement read.

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According to her father, Gwen was preparing to study at the University of Vermont in the fall, and was also following in her father's footsteps to become a political activist.

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