The Wired has an interesting story on sudden cardiac arrest among college athletes:

  • Overall, more sudden cardiac arrest deaths occurred in basketball, striking one in 11,394 athletes every year. The next-leading sports were swimming, lacrosse, football and cross-country.
  • Focusing solely on Division I male basketball players, the rate shot up to one in roughly 3,000.
  • Men (one in 33,134) were at a much higher risk than women (one in 76,646) to die from sudden cardiac arrest.
  • Black athletes also faced a much higher risk (one in 17,696) as opposed to white athletes (one in 58,653).
  • 75 percent of all deaths that happened during or immediately after intense physical exertion were related to cardiac causes.

I’m rather surprised that the biggest offender isn’t football. It seems that every time I hear about one of these, it’s football. Plus, often overweight players in hot August heat wearing hot equipment. I suppose that’s probably because (a) more football players get afflicted in raw numbers, (b) I’ve lived most of my life in pigskin country, and (c) I pay more attention to football than other sports. And the heat issue would, I would imagine, apply more to heat stroke than heart attacks.

In another sense, it does make sense that basketball would be the worst because of the exertion it requires combined with the competitiveness of the sport. The team physician for U-Dub suggests that they might need to consider screening athletes. Given that it’s a risk that 90% of athletes at the Division I level would take, that’s going to be tough to implement.


Category: Newsroom

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