Sudden cardiac arrest during participation in competitive sports  is an article recently published in the journal General Practice-Research Review

‘This Canadian study examined the occurrence of sudden cardiac arrest during participation in sports activities. The Rescu Epistry cardiac arrest database was reviewed to identify all out-of-hospital cardiac arrests that occurred during sports activities in 2009–2014 in individuals aged 12–45 years in Canada.

74 sudden cardiac arrests occurred during participation in a sport; of these, 16 occurred during competitive sports and 58 occurred during non-competitive sports.

The incidence of sudden cardiac arrest during competitive sports was 0.76 cases per 100,000 athlete-years; 43.8% of the athletes survived.

Among the competitive athletes, two deaths were attributed to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy but none to arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy. Three cases of sudden cardiac arrest were considered to have been potentially identifiable if the athletes had undergone pre-participation screening.


This Canadian study answers one of those perennial problems – screening for structural or conduction defect cardiovascular disease in a well population. The incidence of cardiac arrest is low in those who are active and around half of those who arrest survive to leave hospital.

We need some better evidence to advise the older weekend warrior on their risks. Perhaps providing semiautomatic defibrillators to sporting clubs may be the best and most cost-effective way to prolong life.’

Reference: N Engl J Med 2017;377(20):1943-53  You can access the  abstract here>>

  Authors: Landry et al.

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