In the 42nd minute of a 2020 European Championship match in Copenhagen, 29-year-old Danish soccer player Christian Eriksen collapsed to the ground as he received a throw-in.
The medical staff rushed to the field to perform defibrillation, and teammates gathered around to protect him from the view of the fans.
Prompt emergency medical attention likely saved Eriksen’s life.
Sudden cardiac arrest isn’t unique to soccer. Despite being
We will explore why athletes develop cardiac arrest and what they can do to lower their risk.
It’s rare for athletes to develop cardiac arrest. Congenital heart conditions, or heart conditions present from birth, are the
Researchers believe the
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM): a thickening of the walls in the left ventricle. HCM is thought to be the most common cause of sudden cardiac death in athletes and affects about
1 in 500people in the general population.
- Anomalous origin of a coronary artery: an improper placement of one of the coronary arteries that supply the heart with blood.
Some people disagree on whether or not HCM is the most common cause.
The researchers only found definitive evidence in 8 percent of cases, compared to 30 to 40 percent in previous studies.
Other heart anomalies can contribute to sudden cardiac death.
- arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy
- Aortopathy is a type ofopathy.
- dilated cardiomyopathy, or an enlarged heart
- There are disorders of the heart valve.
- congenital long QT syndrome
- catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia is a type of cardiovascular disease.
- Wolf-Parkinson-White syndrome is a genetic disorder.
- The syndrome is called Brugada syndrome.
Dilated cardiomyopathy and The syndrome is called Brugada syndrome. can also be acquired conditions.
Acquired conditions are the things that develop in your life.
- high blood pressure.
- high cholesterol
- high levels of triglycerides
- It is chronic inflammation.
Other acquired conditions can lead to cardiac arrest.
- commotio cordis, heart damage from sudden blunt impact to the chest
- The disease is called Kawasaki.
- myocarditis, which can be due to viral infections, such as
- use of stimulants, anabolic steroids, peptide hormones, and other drugs
Signs of sudden cardiac arrest
Cardiac arrest is often referred to as a heart attack.
- sudden collapse
- There was no pulse.
- There was no breath.
- Loss of consciousness.
Cardiac arrest can be preceded by:
If you develop any signs of a cardiac arrest, you need to get help.
Estimates on how often athletes experience sudden cardiac arrest vary based on the definition of athlete and whether studies include cardiac events away from sport. They range anywhere from
|Risk factor||Higher risk||Lower risk|
|Sex||1 in 37,790 for males||1 in 121,593 for females|
|Race||1 in 21,491 for Black athletes||1 in 56,254 for Hispanic athletes
1 in 68,354 for white athletes
|Sport||Men’s basketball: 1 in 8,978
Men’s soccer: 1 in 23,689
Men’s (American) football: 1 in 35,951
They identified 74 cases of sudden cardiac arrest with survival, and 105 that resulted in death. More than 80 percent of people were male, and the average age was
Cardiac arrest by sport
|Track and field/cross country||31 (9.4)|
|Ice hockey||8 (2.4)|
|Freestyle skiing||1 (0.3)|
|Flag football||1 (0.3)|
How to best prevent sudden cardiac arrest in athletes is still a matter of
Researchers continue to debate the implementation of screening with an electrocardiogram (ECG), as is done in some countries. An ECG is a device that measures the activity of your heart.
In Italy, the most common cause of sudden cardiac death in athletes is
Researchers are continuing to examine the potential usefulness of
Eating a balanced diet may help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, especially for older athletes. Foods that lower your risk of heart disease are also likely to support athletic performance and overall health.
Benefits of having an athletic training and defibrillator on-site
A certified athletic trainer and a defibrillar on-site can help save lives after a sudden cardiac arrest.
Careful evaluation from a medical professional is needed before you can return to sport. A study by the
It might not be possible to return safely. Your team or institution may disqualify you from being involved in liability concerns.
Eriksen returned to football 8 months after his sudden cardiac arrest. Doctors fitted him with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator. However, Italian medical authorities banned him from playing in Italy with his club team Inter Milan, leading him to sign with Brentford in the United Kingdom’s Premier League.
Congenital heart disease is the most common cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes. It is a disease in older athletes.
There is still debate on how to best screen for risk factors in athletes.
If you have a known heart problem, you can talk to your doctor about whether you should be participating in sports or undergo further testing.