Monday, June 21, 2021
by Trevor Wilkes, MD
The athletes we watch
on television, and for that matter our own children for whom we cheer
from the sidelines,
can often seem invincible. Recently, the world witnessed a grim
reminder that this is
not the case - a reminder that we must be prepared.
The European Soccer
Championships are underway across the Atlantic. Fandom and
fuel soaring levels of excitement and engagement in this event. Amidst this
joy, Christian Eriksen
suddenly collapsed, unprovoked and lay motionless in
the grass. Athletic
training staff rushed to perform CPR. Players openly wept. Fans and
viewers held their
collective breath. What had happened?
For those not
familiar, Mr. Eriksen is a star attacking midfield player for the Danish
Soccer Team and the
club Inter Milan, this year's champions of Italy. At age 29, he is in elite,
top 1%, physical
condition. Professional soccer players typically run greater than 7 miles a
game, much of it
sprinting, and follow a grueling conditioning program.
Sudden cardiac arrest
is the leading cause of death in young athletes. It remains a rare
occurrence and the
exact incidence is unknown, perhaps 1 in 50,000. However, speak with any
trainer or coach, and they have witnessed at least one close call. Typically,
an underlying heart
abnormality such as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, Coronary Artery
abnormalities or Long
QT Syndrome are at the root cause. A description of these complex
conditions is beyond
the scope of this post; however, in function, the heart suddenly ceases to
maintain the ability
to pump sufficient blood, and thus oxygen, to the brain.
These conditions are
often unknown. At times, symptoms such as unexplained fainting can
serve as a clue to
diagnosis. A direct family history of sudden cardiac death at an age less than
50 can also serve as a
warning sign to discuss with a physician. Screening for these conditions
is controversial due
to high cost and frequent false positive tests.
What is not debatable,
is that prompt action and preparedness saves lives. A solid
practice, and certification of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) amongst
athletic trainers and the general population have saved countless lives.
Layer on top of this
the growing presence of automated external defibrillators (AED) which
stimulation to the heart muscle and survival rates are more promising than
Watch this video from U.S. Soccer: Recognize to Recover - CPR and AED Training
In the case of
Christian Eriksen, medical staff were on the field attending to
player in less than 2
minutes. What has been reported is that he had a faint pulse initially which
CPR was immediately undertaken and one round of “shock” with the AED
was utilized. The
player was seen to have eyes open and fingers moving while being
stretchered off the
field. Although Eriksen was discharged from a Copenhagen hospital on Friday, June 18, OrthoCincy and OrthoCincy Wellington continue to extend our thoughts to him and his family.
This should serve as a reminder to our Tri-State sports family of athletes,
administrators and ATCs of the fragility of life and our collective
care for each other.
Learn more about Dr. Wilkes and all the OrthoCincy and OrthoCincy Wellington doctors.