Sudden Cardiac Death

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Sports related cardiac deaths are very sudden and most scientists don’t know why they occur, but researchers are conducting many studies to try to determine the exact cause. What happens when an athlete that is in the best of physical health suffers a sudden cardiac death? The sudden death leaves the community, team, and family shocked and devastated and looking for answers. There has been many studies done trying to determine why athletes suffer sudden cardiac arrest.

Although sudden cardiac deaths are believed to be uncommon, the frequency with which such deaths occur remains largely unknown. (Maron; Pelliccia; Aeppli p.1881) A cardiac arrest is when a person’s heart stops pumping. When a person’s heart stops pumping blood doesn’t flow around their body and oxygen doesn’t reach their brian like it normally should. If an athlete suffers a cardiac arrest and their heart stops pumping for a period of time, then they are most likely not to recover.The frequency of sudden cardiac death in high school athletes is reported as 1:180,000-1:200,000, with 90% of these deaths occurring during training or competition. (Subasic p.18)

Sudden cardiac death in young athletes was first reported in 1980s and defined as cardiovascular event that occurred during physical activity or within hours of physical activity without awareness of underlying cardiac abnormalities. (Subasic p.18) As the years have gone by, sudden cardiac deaths have occurred more frequently then in the 1980s. Scientists have been researching why exactly athletes suffer from cardiac arrest, and still most scientists haven’t found a clear and direct reason on why they occur. Although initially reported in the United States in the early 1980s, the causes of sudden death in ...

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...orrado; Drezner; Basso; Pelliccia; Thiene p. 200 ) Some studies have actually shown that the ECG screening is considered to be a poor screening tool for the athlete because it isn’t always accurate.

The United States performed their own study in Minnesota of college and high school athletes trying to see the rate of sudden cardiac arrest. The athletes in Minnesota did not undergo ECG screening, unlike the athletes in Italy. I have compared the results of the two studies which have taken place around the same time period. I found out that there were 12 deaths in the Veneto, Italy region, where the screening took place, compared to only 11 deaths in Minneosta, where there was no screening. ( Corrado; Drezner; Basso; Pelliccia; Thiene p. 199 ) With that observation it is clear on why the United States do not perform the expensive ECG screening, like Italy requires.

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