Cardiac arrest and youth

18 Apr 2012, 10:16
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Cardiac arrest and youth

Heart problems and cardiac or circulatory arrest in particular are usually associated with elderly.


However,there is about 500 death a year from circulatory arrest among young adults only in the United Kingdom. This looks as rather worrying trend. Partly because it usually affects people in a good fitness sportsmen in particular.


There was a number of infamous cases where sport star were involved. A 23-year-old Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba, who suffered from cardiac arrest during the Bolton vs Tottenham Hotspur match this month. Gladly, he managed to recover despite the fact that his heart stopped more than for one hour.


It is said he was one of the best and one of the fittest player in the club. The same happened to Marc-Vivien Foe, the Cameroon footballer who collapsed and eventually died during the match with Colombia national team in 2003.


Experts think, however, that such cases are caused by some inherited conditions rather than the fitness of sportsmen. There are two types of inherited abnormalities usually connected with circulatory arrest. Arrhythmia (abnormal electrical activity in the heart) and cardiomyopathies (dysfunction of the heart muscle).


It is still unknown, what part sport plays in the probability of death during exercises. The evidence is not strong enough yet to make any conclusions.


Researchers suggest that people with inherited heart problems are two times likely to collapse if they are high-profile sport players.


As Dr. Shapiro from the Football Association UK said, it was always difficult to know what could be treated as a trigger of a sudden heart attack. He noted that there might be a predisposition on some individuals to have a circulatory arrest while under physical and emotional stress.


The question posed is if there is any chance to prevent such events. It is a common practice among European countries that high-profile players have a regular screening, though the regulations differ from country to country.


Football players are to have the first medical screening at the age of 16 and they are likely to have a regular mandatory check-ups through their whole career. If any problems occur they are often have to give up sport career.


Although test are usually include all the possible aspect of sport men's health, it is not perfect at all, experts plead. The test itself does not guarantee that some dysfunctions of abnormalities will be found. There is a reason for such a problem. Usually abnormalities are not permanent. That makes difficult to pick them up while making normal check-up.


The other reason might be the methods of medical screenings: ECG (electrocardiography) and ultrasound screening of the heart muscle might be inefficient for top sportsmen.


The Bolton player which was mentioned earlier had the latest screening last summer. That means that common football players check-ups is no effective in a long prospective. It is time to think about new ways of screening for top players.

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