Why elite athletes experience cardiac arrest

Sadly, even the fittest athletes are immune to cardiac arrest. Indeed, this became clear to the footballing world when Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest during Euro 2020. Although Eriksen would survive thanks to immediate medical attention, this raised the issue of cardiac arrest into the mainstream. Below, we explore why elite athletes experience cardiac arrest.

What is a cardiac arrest?

For elite athletes, this is usually triggered by a sudden cardiac arrest. It’s a condition where the heart suddenly loses its rhythm and stops pumping blood around the body – this usually occurs without any symptoms beforehand. Unless there is immediate medical attention – including defibrillation – it’s likely that the athlete will die or suffer from a life-altering disability.

What are the causes?

A sudden cardiac arrest is usually caused by a structural or electrical abnormality in the heart. This will often be an inherited condition that is undiagnosed up until the moment of cardiac arrest. On rare occasions a heavy blow to the chest can also cause a cardiac arrest – this is known as commotio cordis.

Who is at risk?

In America one or two in every 100,000 young athletes suffer a sudden cardiac event each year. Those who at risk mostly suffer from an undiagnosed underlying condition. Indeed, half of sudden cardiac arrest events in the UK occur with an underlying heart problem. As such it can help if young athletes are screened before joining a sports club to scan for any issues. However, even the latest technology can even miss an issue with experienced cardiologists interpreting the data.

Can we prevent it?

Looking through someone’s family medical history can potentially shed light on their risk factor. For instance, the death of a near relative from a heart condition before the age 50 can suggest that there is a genetic problem. At the same time, you can also look for slight symptoms in a young athlete. If they’ve suffered from a heart murmur, chest pains while playing sports, hypertension, heart palpitations or unexplained fainting then it could be that there is a heart problem.

If you’ve suffered incompetent medical care during a cardiac arrest, or if your doctor missed the long-term symptoms, you could potentially earn compensation to help with your recovery. Just get in contact with personal injury lawyers and you could achieve peace of mind as you recover.

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