Sudden Cardiac Deaths in Student Athletes

7 Apr

I have noticed in the news lately accounts of student athletes who have suddenly died during sporting events.

Wes Leonard was the most recent of these tragedies.  After hitting the game winning shot, the 16 year-old collapsed on the court and later died.

Not only is this terribly tragic but also incredibly concerning.  My initial reaction was why?!  What is causeing this?  Why now? I found this really informative article in the New York Times Health section yesterday that addressed a research study regarding sudden cardiace deaths in student athletes.

The article said that while it has been more common in the new lately, that the rates have not actually increased.  The number they gave for the typical number of student athletes who die during sporting events was still a lot higher than I expected.  They said that 1 in every 43,770 National Collegiate Athletic Association student-athletes (ages ranging from 17 to 23) experience sudden cardiac death per year.

It also said that black athletes and Division I basketball players were at the highest risk.  They reported that the number of black athletes that die as a result of sudden cardiac failure are 1 in 18,000!  They said the reason for this could be an increased incidence of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is when parts of the heart muscle become think, making the heart have to work harder to get blood to pump.

Something that the article suggested in reducing the prevalence of this is having all athletes screened for cardiac abnormalities prior to participation in any sports.


7 Responses to “Sudden Cardiac Deaths in Student Athletes”

  1. dalynnbrown April 7, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    I saw this news article too, I was so sad when I heard what happened. He didn’t even get to celebrate his awesome shot. A lot of abnormalities are asymptomatic and we aren’t aware that we have, getting tested for abnormalities is a super good idea.

  2. mthomas8 April 8, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    This is such a scary issue. My brother played Division 1 Football (BYU), and could have been one of these individuals. It will also be a risk factor for my future kids who I hope will decide to play sports.

  3. Ellen April 8, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    It’s pretty scary. I really think it would be a great idea to screen athletes for cardiac abnormalities so that this wouldn’t have to happen.

  4. reganmclain April 9, 2011 at 12:24 am #

    hearing stories like this just breaks my heart. no healthy teen should have to go through stuff like this!

  5. susannahnaillon April 9, 2011 at 5:57 am #

    I agree. I think that athletes should get screened to avoid this issue. It’s very heartbreaking to lose a loved one all of the sudden- and they were not even engaging in anything harmful.

  6. jlbrock April 9, 2011 at 7:01 am #

    i never would have thought teens have this problem. so sad.

  7. davwatkins April 9, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

    I was wondering what might be the cause of these deaths, interesting that it might not be on the rise.

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