Defibrillators in Sport
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) can strike people of all ages and all fitness levels.
It strikes suddenly, without warning and in the UK alone kills 2000 people each week. Of those, at least 12 will be young people.
It is estimated that 20% of all SCA’s occurring outside the hospital environment happen on the golf course!
A host of undetected cardiac problems exist within any sizeable population and some activities (especially sports) may exacerbate these difficulties.
Recent deaths in the sporting world attributed to SCA include:
Neil Desai (22) World ranked squash player, died in his sleep whilst on holiday
Phil O’Donnell (35) Footballer, captain of Motherwell, died during a match
Acton Reid (16) Trainee footballer at Walsall, died whilst training
Matt Gadsby (27) Footballer with Hinckly United, died during a match
Laura Moss (13) Junior swimmer for the Olympic Swim 2000 squad, died during training
In several countries there are government funded athletic preparticipation cardiac screening programmes, which have been shown to be very effective in picking up previously undiagnosed problems. In the UK the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young ( www.c-r-y.org.uk) offers the most comprehensive screening programme for people under 35.
- As many as 1 in 500 people may suffer from cardiac myopathies in which the heart muscle is unusually thick. This often undetected condition can lead to SCA and can be precipitated by exercise.
- Commotio Cordis is a condition in which the heart suddenly stops beating effectively following a relatively low velocity impact with a blunt object to the chest. The impact can be in the form of a rugby ball, football, hockey ball, knee or shoulder. In the USA it has been documented as being the second most common cause of SCA in school age athletes.
- 70% of all SCA’s are thought to be due to Coronary Heart Disease. This may be asymptomatic until the attack and is often precipitated by exercise.
The only effective form of treatment for SCA is rapid (within 4-6 minutes) defibrillation using an Automated External Defibrillator or AED as part of the chain of survival.
With average response times of the emergency services being greater than 10 minutes without an on site AED the chances of survival are almost nil.
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