The nightmare: Sudden cardiac arrest in competitive sports

The nightmare: Sudden cardiac arrest in competitive sports

Last Updated on April 10, 2018 by Joseph Gut – thasso

They found that over the course of 18.5 million person-years of observation, 74 sudden cardiac arrests occurred during participation in a sport; of these, 16 occurred during competitive sports and 58 occurred during noncompetitive sports. The incidence of sudden cardiac arrest during competitive sports was 0.76 cases per 100,000 athlete-years, with 43.8% of the athletes surviving until they were discharged from the hospital. Among the competitive athletes, two deaths were attributed to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and none to arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy. Three cases of sudden cardiac arrest that occurred during participation in competitive sports were determined to have been potentially identifiable if the athletes had undergone preparticipation screening.

Previously, researchers had identified a new gene that can lead to sudden death among young people and athletes. The gene, called CDH2, causes arrhythmogenic right ventricle cardiomyopathy (ARVC), which is a genetic disorder that predisposes patients to cardiac arrest and is a major cause of unexpected death in seemingly healthy young people (Thasso Post had an article on the subject). Whether the tree cases in the present study which could potentially have been identified through prospective pre-competition screening were carriers of that risk gene (i.e., CDH2) is unfortunately not clear.

Although statistically seen very rare, cases of spontaneous deadly incidences are real and occur from all sports. It seems that often soccer players are affected.  See the following video, and be aware that there are may more victims who remain anonymous and should also not be forgotten.


Ph.D.; Professor in Pharmacology and Toxicology. Senior expert in theragenomic and personalized medicine and individualized drug safety. Senior expert in pharmaco- and toxicogenetics. Senior expert in human safety of drugs, chemicals, environmental pollutants, and dietary ingredients.

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