Sudden cardiac death in athletes

Sudden cardiac death in athletes is one of the rare but growing dangerous event in athletes ,as 1 of every 50000 athletes are under risk of this sudden event. As there are many conditions that can cause to this severe problem but Heart arrhythmia is one of the main reason behind this condition. In this blog we will be discussing about heart arrhythmia and its link with sudden cardiac arrest in detail.

Sudden Cardiac Death
Heart Health Heart Disease Stroke Heart Attack

Sudden loss of heart function causing unexpected death due to sudden failure of heart (cardiac arrest). This can happen when the electrical impulse controlling the heartbeat is interrupted or disturbed causing the heart to stop beating effectively.

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What is Heart arrhythmia

Heart arrhythmia is a condition in which normal rhythm of heart is disturbed. It can be caused by different genetic, lifestyle or any underlying medical condition. Arrhythmia can cause the heart to beat too slowly ,too quickly or irregularly and in some of the cases heart can stop beating altogether.

Sudden Cardiac Death in Athletes

The main concern among athletes are the types of heart arrhythmia that causes sudden cardiac arrest. There are mainly two types of such arrhythmia which are VF (Ventricular Fibrillation) and VT (Ventricular Tachycardia) .Ventricular fibrillation occurs when heart’s lower chamber starts trembling instead of contracting normally. Ventricular tachycardia occurs when the heart starts beating too quickly.

Symptoms of sudden cardiac death may include chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting, or palpitations, but in many cases, there are no warning signs. Treatment of sudden cardiac death may include cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), a life saving technique during emergency, defibrillation, and medications to restore heart function.

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Identifying athletes at risk

The main difficulty behind screening of heart arrhythmia is that it is asymptomatic due to which it is very hard to identify any pre symptoms so that it can be treated or managed on time. So it’s important to screen all the heart conditions that can cause sudden cardiac death in athletes. American heart association recommends all athletes to go for full heart evaluation before participation and any other existing cardiovascular condition.

Some other additional tests can also be conducted for better evaluation of athlete’s heart like electrocardiography (ECG) or Echocardiography which shows all the rhythmic activities and the heart’s sound to understand the heart health in a better way so that athlete should not go under cardiac arrest.

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Strategies for prevention

There are many strategies which helps in preventing SCD in athletes which include some life modification which include the following points :

  • Eating a healthy diet- Working on your diet is very important in athletics because the energy consumption should be in proper amount to maintain the body energy and the consistency during athletics.
  • Stay hydrated – Staying hydrated is very important to continue all the metabolic activities running smoothly. Discuss with your doctor about the amount of water you need to drink while practicing or performing the athletics.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking – It is very necessary to stay away from over smoking and drinking which is very dangerous for your lungs and liver. It can harm these organs which can ultimately result in Sudden cardiac death .
  • Getting proper sleep – Getting proper 6 to 8 hour sleep is very important to maintain the metabolic reactions in our body, which when altered can lead to SCD.
  • Managing stress level – Maintaining stress level is very important for your heart health because the heart beat during stress increases and can cause ventricular tachycardia.
  • Medical interventions are required in athletes who are at higher risk of getting SCD. These medical interventions include medications to control heart rhythms and implantable cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD’s) which gives shock to the heart whenever arrhythmia occurs. Ablation procedure is done to destroy the tissue in heart which is responsible for the disturbance of electrical activity.


Maintain healthy diet

SCD is an emergency condition when you have to rush and save your life. Maintaining good diet , being hydrated and staying away from smoking and over drinking are the key measures to follow in order to save you and your family from this SCD.

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