Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the soccer pitch in front of a stadium packed with spectators last month. Around the same time 30 year old distance runner Claire Squires collapsed during the 2012 London Marathon. Muamba recovered, but Squires did not. Both were considered to be in excellent physical condition, but both were afflicted by a sudden cardiac arrest. University College London sports scientist Richard Weiler said in an interview with Reuters ,"There's so much we don't know." He continued, "We don't know what triggers sudden cardiac death. We don't understand the risks in different sports, we don't understand whether race and genetics have an impact, and we don't know why many cases of sudden cardiac death remain unexplained." To read more about this mystery click ahead.
Sudden cardiac death is extremely rare. It occurs in only one out of every 100,000 people. It appears to be more common in athletes than the general population, but this assumption may be an error because of the high profile nature of the incidents with athletes. Experts describe the condition as basically an electrical problem in heart rhythm. Hypertension, family history, and most importantly, overall fitness level doesn't seem to be an indicator of risk.
Screening for sudden cardiac arrest is difficult. Cardiologists have to individually screen a patient's family history and scan the heart for electrical and structural faults. Because occurrence is so rare, compulsory screening seems unnecessary to many doctors. Because the condition is so rare, even patients who are screened can slip through the cracks while some patients can be incorrectly diagnosed.
What's the solution? Having defibrillators readily available at athletic competitions is a smart idea. Likewise knowing your blood pressure is extremely important. If you've been diagnosed with hypertension, using a home blood pressure monitor is a good idea. But unfortunately the mystery of sudden cardiac death remains. It can strike anywhere in the healthiest of individuals. Only quick action, medical attention and care, as in the case of Muamba, can save the afflicted person's life from the greatest mystery of all, as Henry Ward Beecher, 19th century abolitionist said on his deathbed, "Now comes the mystery..."
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