Research Presented at Care of the Athletic Heart Examines Need of CPR/AED Training For Athletes

Only 50% of athletes surveyed reported knowing what is sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), along with just 7.7% being concerned about it during play, according to a new study presented at ACC’s Care of the Athletic Heart 2023 course taking place June 8-10 in Washington, DC, and virtually.

To identify the incidence of fellow athletes responding to SCA events, Merije T. Chukumerije, MD, in collaboration with Lorrel Toft, MD, reviewed 46 instances of sports-related SCA events where CPR was clearly utilized from 1984 to 2022. They consulted a range of sources including the first 100 YouTube results for “athlete cardiac arrest during game” (10); Parent Heart Watch database, a nonprofit that shares stories of youth SCA (20); scholarly articles (13); and media summaries (3).

Researchers found that trained personnel provided CPR in 89% of the cases, while 11% involved fellow athletes providing CPR. However, of the cases involving fellow athletes, two of the athletes providing CPR were trained first responders, meaning that only 7% of the events analyzed involved a lay-responder athlete providing CPR.

The study also included a survey assessing awareness of sports-related SCA and CPR among 104 collegiate athletes (37% female) at three sites. The survey occurred prior to Damar Hamlin’s televised collapse during a National Football League game in January 2023.

Results showed that half of respondents knew what SCA is, with no significant difference across sport, gender or years of experience. In addition, 51% of athletes had received CPR training, with a higher percentage of these athletes indicating knowledge of SCA compared to athletes who received no training (61.5% vs. 39.2%; p=0.04). Only 7.7% of athletes voiced concern about an SCA event occurring during play, with no significant difference across any group.

“Typically, the first and closest witnesses to a fallen player are their fellow athletes, so they should become part of the first response team,” said Chukumerije, the study’s lead author. “In addition, athletes are ubiquitous in sports environments – the game, gym, practice facility, player-only training sessions – whereas trainers, coaches, etc., are not.”

ACC’s Care of the Athletic Heart course, led by Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, Dermot Phelan, BAO, MBBCh, PhD, FACC, and Megan Wasfy, MD, FACC, features top sports cardiology experts discussing the latest advances in sports cardiology, as well as fundamental cardiovascular diagnostic and management strategies and treatment options in the field.

Additional abstracts being presented during the conference include:

  • Return to Play Evaluation Post COVID – Longitudinal Experience in Cardiac Risk Assessment at a Division I Athletic Program
  • Outcomes and Results of 10 Years of Cardiac Screening of Elite New Zealand Athletes
  • Cardiovascular Screening of Tactical Athletes: Results From ECG Screening of Cadets and Midshipmen at Military Service Academies
  • COACH Study: COVID-19 Influence on Athletic Cardiopulmonary Health Assessed as the Change in VO2max: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Learn more about ACC’s Care of the Athletic Heart course here, and follow ACC social media for live coverage of the conference.

Clinical Topics: Arrhythmias and Clinical EP, COVID-19 Hub, Diabetes and Cardiometabolic Disease, Prevention, Sports and Exercise Cardiology, Implantable Devices, SCD/Ventricular Arrhythmias, Exercise

Keywords: Oxygen Consumption, Exercise, Electrocardiography, Cardiology, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, Heart Arrest, Death, Sudden, Cardiac, Athletes, COVID-19, Return to Sport

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