Sudden Cardiac Arrest on the Soccer Field

EMT's attending to Muamba on the field

In our infant and child workshops as well as in our certified classes, we always introduce the AED, or Automated External Defibrillator.  In fact, Vanessa always carries a live AED unit with her. The American Heart Association and the American Red Cross both include rapid deployment of an AED as a key component in successful resuscitation from sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest is the number one killer in the Untied States, claiming over 350,000 lives annually. Realizing the importance of AED’s, state governments have been mandating their installation in public places. More specifically, the implementation of AED’s in fitness facilities is of great concern.  As most people are aware, the heart withstands a huge load during physical exertion. The likelihood of SCA occurring during or after a workout is great. No one is immune to Sudden Cardiac Arrest.  The recent episode involving English Premier League Footballer, Fabrice Muamba is a perfect example of this.

Muamba is what we consider an “elite” athlete.  Coaches, teammates, and trainers all concur that this 23 year old was one of the best conditioned athletes in the entire league. Why then did a young man in the prime of his life fall lifeless on the pitch and lie there for nearly thirty minutes while medics attempted to restart his heart?  The answer lies in a pre-existing  condition called hypo tropic cardiomyopathy.  A congenital condition, cardiomyopathy equates to excess thickening f the heart muscle as a result of  an internal defect in the cardiovascular system.  The likelihood of SCA occurring in a person with SCA is ——– times higher than in someone with a normal heart.  There are screenings that can detect this condition, although sometimes the condition goes unnoticed by doctors.  As in Muamba’s case, the only way to potentially restart the heart  if cardiac arrest does occur is through defibrillation.  While he was lying on the field, Muamba’s heart was shocked fifteen times.  On his way to the hospital it was shocked another twelve times.  In addition to the defibrillator’s shocks, CPR was administered in between shocks.  The profusion of blood through he body as a result of CPR, allowed Muamba’s vital organs to remain oxygenated and viable.  Seventy eight minutes after his heart initially stopped, Muamba regained a pulse.  It has been hailed as a medical miracle. A couple of weeks ago, he returned home with full function of his body. A defibrillator was implanted in him in case of a future cardiac episode. It is unknown if he will ever play soccer professionally again.

We cannot stress enough the importance of the placement of AED’s and the training of people in their use.  Currently the survival rate of cardiac arrest in New York City is around 3%.  That is an atrocious statistic.  The AED is the best measure available to quickly treat Sudden Cardiac Arrest.  Who knows when SCA will hit, Fabrice Muambaa definitely did not expect it to happen on the soccer field. Is your fitness facility  ready in case of a Cardiac event?

Muamba recovering from SCA