SCA in Athletes

It’s not something we hear about daily, so it’s easy to overlook that Sudden Cardiac Arrest is lurking in our midst. But it is there, and we’re reminded of this when we hear stories of prominent athletes in their prime collapsing mid arena.

Nobody wants to see anybody of any age collapsing, but seeing young people in apparently optimal health go into cardiac arrest is even more shocking.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest In The Media

One such occurrence was a televised football game during the 2021 Euros, where the Danish footballer Christian Eriksen collapsed with a sudden cardiac arrest. The fact that this was captured on-screen with millions of people watching, plus the media attention Eriksen attracted during his recovery, highlighted that an AED can be the difference between life and death during cardiac arrest.

The attending doctors recognised the arrest and confirmed 29-year-old Eriksen had ‘gone’ by the time they got to him, but with one shock from the defibrillator, they managed to resuscitate him. The players created a circle of privacy around him to try to calm the situation for spectators and to enable the doctors to do what they needed, but the reality of the expressions on the players’ faces tell another story.

And we’re glad that in this instance, we’re telling a story of hope, not of loss but sadly, that isn’t the case for 90% of people who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest. The biggest reason for this is the lack of access to a defibrillator within the most critical time scale after the cardiac arrest.

Another success story was Fabrice Muamba, the Zaire born English soccer player who suffered a cardiac arrest in 2012 on the field during an FA Cup match between Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur. 

Despite being only 23 years old, he survived because there was a cardiologist spectating. Dr. Andrew Deaner felt compelled to rush onto the field and assist the medical staff of both teams with their resuscitation attempts, and between his collapse and arriving at the London Chest Hospital (LCH), where Dr. Deaner worked, Muamba was given 15 defibrillation shocks. 

These are just two stories, but the reality is that sadly, this medical condition affects more than 350,000 people every year, with 23,000 of them being young and is the main killer in young athletes. 

Causes of Sudden Cardiac Arrest And What To Look Out For

Many of the sudden cardiac arrests occur because of an undetected heart condition. It is estimated that one in three hundred youths have a heart condition that is undetected and could put them at risk.

The most prevalent heart conditions include:

  • Coronary Artery Anomalies 
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
  • Idiopathic Left Ventricular Hypertrophy 
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White 
  • Long QT Syndrome

Whilst they can go completely undetected, they can also have symptoms that you should seek medical guidance for or heart testing if your child is experiencing them:

  • Heartbeat is racing
  • Seizures or fainting
  • Discomfort or chest pain during or after exertion
  • Unusual tiredness or fatigue
  • Unusually short of breath
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness during or after physical activity 
  • History of unexpected death in the family
  • History of heart disease in the family
  • Unexplained death in the family member aged under 50


What Should I Do If Someone Goes Into Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

If you witness a person going into sudden cardiac arrest, the most important thing to do is to act quickly.

  • Safety – quickly check they are safe.
  • Response – check how responsive they are
  • Get Help – Shout for help and tell someone nearby to call 999 or call them yourself straight away. 
  • Find an AED – see if there’s an AED (automated external defibrillator) to hand. Tell bystanders to hurry and see if one can be found – time is absolutely critical.
  • Check Breathing – if the victim is not breathing or is only gasping, begin CPR with compressions.
  • Begin CPR – at a rate of 100 to 120 pushes a minute, push down in the middle of the chest at least two inches. After each push, let the chest come back up to its normal position.
  • Use AED – Once it arrives, turn the AED on and follow the machine’s prompts
  • Continue CPR – Keep administering CPR until the person starts breathing or moving, or until a trained medical person can take over.

Every second counts so make sure any communication you make highlights the urgency of the situation.

Do I Need Experience With An AED Device To Use It?

The reassuring news here is that you don’t need to have prior experience with a defib to use it. Whilst it’s always beneficial to have confidence using any equipment, the nature of sudden cardiac arrest means you don’t have the luxury of time – you need to act fast.

Modern automated external defibrillators provide specific prompts to tell you exactly what to do, in which order. A sudden cardiac arrest will take everyone by surprise, and the clearer the instructions, the less likely you are to panic which is exactly what our AEDs do.

This is why we have added The Lifeline VIEW AUTO to our range. With clear voice instructions and graphics on a screen, it is the ONLY AED on the market with a full-colour video screen – so simple to use that even a child can use it with confidence in a rescue…

♥ One button operation – will work out if a shock is needed and then automatically deliver it

♥ Industry-Unique full-colour video screen – including visual CPR coaching

♥ On-screen instructions so anyone can use it regardless of language or hearing ability

♥ Tough and robust design

♥ Self-Maintenance unit performs daily/weekly/monthly self-tests and constantly displays status via the bright indicator light

♥ Extremely portable & lightweight – 1.4kg

This AED is ideal for new workplace installations and community public access defibrillation sites and is even suitable for use in aircraft. If you need to find out more about installing AEDs in your schools, colleges or workplace, get in touch here and we can discuss AED purchases and rentals with you as well as any accompanying training your employees may need. 

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