Sudden Cardiac Arrest In Athletes

Sudden Cardiac Arrest In Athletes

August 2, 2022

You often hear stories about prominent young athletes collapsing on the field or the court. It is shocking news to everyone when a young athlete dies from sudden cardiac arrest. But, what causes sudden cardiac arrest in athletes? They’re young and in great shape. How can they possibly have something wrong with their heart?  

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Statistics  

According to Parent Heart Watch, sudden cardiac arrest is not rare. It takes the lives of 365,000 people annually. It affects people of all ages, races, ethnicities, and genders. Sudden cardiac arrest is the number one killer of student athletes and the leading cause of death on school campuses. Up to 23,000 youth are stricken annually by sudden cardiac arrest and more than 90% of sudden cardiac arrest victims die.  

Be Prepared With An AED 

• It is crucial for all administrators, coaches, teams, and athletic trainers to be as prepared as possible for a sudden cardiac arrest emergency. This includes: 
• Having an AED within 3 minutes of all locations. Anytime a practice is happening or a game is taking place, an AED should be present and ready to be used in case of an emergency. 
• Ideally, an athletic trainer is always on site for athletic practices and games, but this is not always the case. It is important for all coaches to be trained in CPR and how to use an AED so if an athletic trainer is not around, they can help save a life. 
• There always should be an emergency action plan that is reviewed and practiced by athletic trainers, administrators, and coaches. Everyone should know the plan and be ready to use it if needed. 
• AEDS should be checked regularly to ensure the battery and pads are not expired and the AED is ready to help save a life! 

Causes of SCA In Athletes 

What causes athletes to go into sudden cardiac arrest? Often times, when an athlete suffers sudden cardiac arrest, it is because of an undetected heart condition. Approximately one in three hundred youth have an undetected heart condition that can put them at risk. Some of those heart conditions include: 

• Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy 
• Long QT Syndrome 
• Coronary Artery Anomalies  
• Idiopathic Left Ventricular Hypertrophy  
• Wolff-Parkinson-White  

Symptoms For Athletes 

Here are some reasons an athlete should get their heat tested: 
• Fainting or seizure  
• Chest pain or discomfort during or after exertion 
• Racing heartbeat 
• Unusual shortness of breath 
• Dizziness or lightheadedness during or after physical activity  
• Unusual fatigue or tiredness 
• Family history of heart disease  
• Family history of unexpected death  
• Unexplained death of family member under the age of 50 

To learn more about Defibtech and to join us on our quest to save lives from sudden cardiac arrest, visit