Cardiac Arrest in Sports, Real-life tragic stories highlight the need for education and prevention


In the October Issue of Advance for Physical therapy and Rehabilitation medicine features an article entitled “Cardiac Arrest in Sports, Real-life tragic stories highlight the need for education and prevention” authored by Robb Rehberg the Executive Director of Sport Safety International.

Here is a small exerpt of the article:

By all accounts, Wes Leonard was the All-American boy. A scholar in the classroom and a star on the basketball court, Wes, a 16-year-old student at Fennville High School in Michigan, was the most popular kid in school.

Wes wasn’t an average kid — he stood out in many ways. And on March 3, 2011, those who knew him came to painfully learn that he was different in one other tragic way. Wes suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an undetected condition that

 caused him to collapse on the court just moments after scoring the winning basket in overtime to cap a perfect season. Wes died of sudden cardiac arrest.

Of all the possible injuries and illnesses that can occur among the physically active population, cardiovascular emergencies can be the most devastating. For decades, the concerns for cardiovascular emergencies and sudden cardiac arrest in the physically active were generally limited to those with known risk factors such as age, obesity, lifestyle habits, diet, and pre-existing cardiovascular disease or congenital abnormalities. In fact, complications of coronary heart disease resulting in myocardial ischemia or myocardial infarction account for ove
r 80% of sudden cardiac deaths in athletes older than 35 years of age.1,2

Cases in which younger athletes have died of sudden cardiac arrest were considered rare situations, presumably because younger athletes are generally considered healthy and do not fit the profile of being at risk for cardiovascular disease. However, new research suggests that death from sudden cardiac arrest in younger athletes may be occurring more often than previously thought. In fact, sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in young athletes today.3 Research by Harmon et al. indicates that approximately one in 44,000 NCAA athletes die of sudden cardiac arrest each year.4

Click here to read the full article.


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