Cardiac Arrest in Young Athletes

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Kayla Martin Martin 1
May 4, 2013
Disciplinary Research Paper
Spread the Word!
“WARNING, ATHLETES! High doses of adrenaline released during increased physical activity may trigger sudden cardiac death (Morris, 1)! Play with caution.” Now think back to the past, have you ever seen a sign just casually hanging up warning you about the possible dangers and effects an adrenaline rush can have on your heart? All I can think back on is how I’ve seen people crave adrenaline rushes, like quenching a thirst that can’t be satisfied. I see people flock to the fast roller coasters, and then I hear about a man dying on the same roller coaster I had just been on because his heart couldn’t handle the rush. But now these kinds of occurrences are creeping into the sports world, creating heated debate of how to prevent cardiac arrest in young athletes. The “rush” an athlete gets from endorphins and adrenaline, I’ll admit, is a satisfying feeling. Now with the noticeable increase of deaths in athletes, the question that’s been brought to attention is, “Are sport regulation requirements too lenient for young athletes?” Creating a source of discussion to express differing opinions on how to fix this problem quickly and prevent the approximate 90 lives of young athletes lost per year in the U.S due to cardiac arrest (De Lench.) Debates are going on discussing the most effective way to prevent cardiac arrest in young athletes, if this health issue is common enough to fund on a national level, and then what changes the athletes, athletic trainers, and government organizations need to establish in order to see this issue come to an end.

Cardiac arrest is defined as an “abrupt loss of heart function in a person who may or may not have diagnosed heart disease. The time and mode of death are unexpected. “It occurs instantly or shortly after symptoms appear.” (Mueller, 4) When this occurs oxygen

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can’t be delivered to the brain, lungs, or anywhere else in the body, and proper, immediate treatment is critical. Sudden cardiac arrest is not something to take lightly in the least bit, if not treated within four to six minutes of the moment it happened probable brain damage is likely, changing a person’s life drastically. It’s uncommon to here of a cardiac arrest survivor that’s recovered fully because of how much damage is done to the body at a frightfully racing pace. Cardiac arrest is much different than a heart attack, even though these terms get mixed up quite often, which is why it’s important to briefly inform what cardiac arrest is, and why it’s become an immense dispute. Being a young, relatively healthy athlete myself, I know the invincible mentality young athletes in their prime can gain. The scary thing is cardiac arrest is killing the supposed “invincible” young generations, and parents don’t think twice that maybe their all-state football son has an undetected heart condition that could kill him instantly while playing in the big game that all the recruiters are at, ruining his dream. According to an article “Sudden Cardiac Arrest” these sudden deaths in athletes almost always occur during physical activity, and is brought on because of a heart abnormality that could have easily been detected if they received a heart screening (Mayo, 2011.) “An estimated 1 in 200,000 young athletes develops abrupt-onset ventricular tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) or fibrillation (a chaotically abnormal heart rhythm) and die suddenly, usually during exercise (Morris, 1.)” With this number only rising athletes are becoming victims of their own actions unknowingly. When it comes to sports, athletes are held to high standards due to pressure, expectations, and personal issues; these standards only elevate as athletes age and progress. Since athletes are typically in-shape and have average, to above-average endurances, they can push their bodies to extreme limits. By making heart screenings optional...
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