More from the heart...

Dateline: Sun 08 Oct 2006

Ironically, the Star has a story today (Page A22) about Italy instigating a program of administering EKGs to its athletes to cut sudden cardiac arrest.

The condition Mpozi Tolbert had could have been detected with an EKG....see the following study, "Sudden Cardiac Death in Young Athletes":

http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=155533

"The most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest in athletes younger than 35 years is a consequence of an underlying cardiac abnormality. According to a study by The American Heart Association, the cardiac problems that can cause sudden cardiac arrest include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (36%), hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, like structural changes (10%), anomalous origin of the left main coronary artery (10%), other coronary anomalies (9%), myocarditis (6%), ruptured aortic aneurysm (5%), tunneled left anterior descending artery (5%), aortic valve stenosis (4%), dilated cardiomyopathy (3%), and arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (2%).

(Note: Mpozi's condition was the latter, also known as arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy.)

More from the Journal of Athletic Training piece:

"Preventing sudden cardiac arrest is difficult if the preexisting cardiac condition is not recognized. To try to achieve this end, physicians should include a thorough history and cardiac examination as part of the preparticipation physical examination. A 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG), a stress rhythm ECG, or both should be performed if any risk factors are identified at the initial assessment. Those risk factors include a history of chest pain, shortness of breath, or arrhythmia; a history of cardiac problems requiring medication; and a family history of death due to sudden cardiac arrest at a young age. Findings on clinical examination of bruits, murmurs, high blood pressure, and arrhythmias deserve more thorough evaluation."

What if Mpozi had been given an EKG and a chest x-ray when he came back from 9/11 (something all the firefighters who went received?)

What if paddles had been in the building?

The Star finally published a story Saturday about his cause of death but the article was slanted, in my view, to make readers believe nothing could have saved him.

No mention of the fact that the condition is treatable and that the use of an AED immediately could have restored the electrical rhythms of his heart...

As I said, when I worked out at NIFS, trainer John O'Dea pointed to four spots where people had collapsed with cardiac arrest. All four men were revived with AEDs and lived.

I need to let this go. One reader suggested contacting legislators, to try to get a law passed to make AEDs mandatory in workplaces with a large number of employees. That at least would make a difference for others.

comments: ruth@ruthholladay.com

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