According to BBC Sports data 64 football players died in the last eleven years on the pitch, 26 of which are Africans. 25 of of the 26 died from sudden heart arrest. While Africans make up 17% of the world’s footballers they account for nearly 40% of the known deaths. In the USA you have similar statistics in basketball. These figures are also seen in the general population.
What is sudden cardiac arrest (SCA )and are Africans more susceptible for sudden cardiac arrest?
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is an abrupt loss of heart function, mostly caused by a very fast and/or chaotic rhythm from the lower chambers of the heart known as ventricular tachycardia (VT) or ventricular fibrillation (VF). It is not the same as a heart attack also known as myocardial infarction, which occurs when blood supply to the heart muscles is blocked. A heart attack can however lead to sudden cardiac arrest.
What makes Africans more susceptible to sudden heart arrest?
There are various underlying causes of sudden cardiac arrest and a few are hereditary. However various studies across the globe fail to prove a clear cut racial bias in their inheritance. Africans do not seem to significantly carry more of these genes. It can be concluded that, the lack of awareness and regular check-ups, fake medical reports, late diagnosis and lack of medical follow-up are the main reasons why Africans are more susceptible for sudden heart attacks.
Who then is more likely to suffer from sudden heart attack?
SCA victims range from children to the elderly. SCA risk factors include:
- Survival of a previous SCA episode
- Acute or Previous heart attacks
- Family history of SCA or other heart disease
- Heart failure
- Hypertrophic heart disease (heriditary and non-hereidirary)
– Hypertrophic heart disease is thickening of the muscles of the heart which leads to stiffness and may cause rhythm disorders during intense physical activity like football. It is mostly inherited but poorly managed hypertension can also also be the cause.
- Long QT Syndrom (LQTS)
– LQTS is a disorder of the heart’s electrical activity which leads to an increased risk of an irregular heartbeat which can result in fainting, drowning, or sudden death.
How do I know and reduce my risk?
• Know your family health history
HOCM and Long-QTS are conditions which run in families and could lead to SCA. If you have a history of sudden death in your family, at least get an ecg and ultrasound of the heart done.
Electrocardiography (ECG or EKG) is the process of recording the electrical activity of the heart over a period of time using electrodes placed on the skin.