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  Category: Articles » Health & Fitness » Article

Should Sudden Cardiac Death Of Athletes Stop Us From Exercising?

By Ng Peng Hock

Only 1 out of 200,000 athletes per academic year had sudden cardiac death. This finding was revealed by a study conducted in the United States among high school and college athletes.

Sportsmen, especially those renowned in their respective fields will certainly attract media attention and will create doubts to some people: if these super-fit individuals can die suddenly, is there any point in exercising? Nevertheless, exercising should not be taken as the real cause of the death of these athletes. Rather, they died because they had some underlying heart problem that had not been detected previously by routine medical examination.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart muscle disorder, can be one of the many reasons that cause an athlete to die during sports. This arises from a gene defect that causes the heart muscle to become too thick. This condition can be suspected if an electrocardiogram could have been done with the results confirmed by an electrocardiogram. Unfortunately, these tests are not scheduled for many of the young people, especially when they do not have sign of heart disease. A Cameroonian footballer, who died at the age of 28, was believed to be in this category.

Scarring of heart is another possible reason for sudden cardiac death. The scarring could be a result of virus attack, which probably causes a lethal arrhythmia leading to death. A Boston Celtics basketballer, who collapsed and died at the age of 27 while shooting balls during practice, was examined to be a possible victim belonging to this category.

Serious blockage of a few blood vessels supplying blood to the heart can cause sudden cardiac death. The lack of blood supply to one's heart may trigger a fatal arrhythmia. A pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, who died at the age of 33, had shoulder pains the night before he was found dead in his bed. He claimed that these pains were due to a previous shoulder injury but the autopsy confirmed that 2 out of the 3 blood vessels supplying blood to his heart had 80 to 90 percent blockage.

Exercise present to us with many unarguable benefits. It helps maintain healthy body weight, and prevent development of diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health problems associated with obesity. Fuels in our bodies can be burnt more efficiently so as to improve our overall sense of wellbeing. Therefore, a few professional athletes who were died suddenly during the sports should not prevent us from exercising.

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