Child Cardiac Arrest in Sports


Can a child suffer from cardiac arrest while playing sports? Actually yes, there have been recorded incidents in football, basketball, hockey, karate and even in soccer. Before everybody begins pulling their child from all sports, let take a look at this very rare condition.

“Commotio Cordis” or a lethal disruption of a child’s heart rhythm, happens when a child receives a blow to the chest at a very specific time during a heartbeat. Usually within a specific 10-30 milliseconds time period. After the heart squeezes out blood, it goes through a resetting process before the next contraction. If a child receives a blow to the chest during this resetting period, the heart can begin to quiver. This quivering action is called ventricular fibrillation and in most situations, the method to cure this condition is called defibrillation, which is done with the use of an AED (Automated External Defibrillator).

Though this condition is rare it is best to have coaches and other personnel trained in CPR. Make sure 911 is called immediately and if possible, have your organization consider purchasing and having an AED available.

Studies have shown that resuscitation rates increase dramatically when an AED is used within three minutes of a child going into ventricular fibrillation. The longer it takes for this to happen the chances of survival can decrease sharply. In most cases, waiting for the ambulance to arrive, may be too late.

Commotio cordis is scary, but very rare and is unlikely to happen to your child. Encourage your children to play sports and other physical activities, just be prepared to act in case of an emergency.

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