Doctors, athletic trainers in the Ozarks prepare for incidents of sudden cardiac arrest

Published: Jul. 25, 2023 at 4:55 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - It was a close call for NBA star LeBron James and his family after his son, Bronny, collapsed during basketball practice with sudden cardiac arrest.

According to CoxHealth doctors, the odds for sudden cardiac arrest are one or two in every 100,000 college athletes. For African American college Athletes, it skyrockets to between 19 and 20 per 100,000. Doctors say an automatic external defibrillator or AED is the best weapon against sudden cardiac arrest. Doctors say if you can get an AED on someone within three minutes of someone collapsing, it could mean the difference between life and death.

“External Defibrillators AEDs, this is the tool that saves people’s lives. And this is likely what led to LeBron James, Jr’s survival,” said Dr. Shannon Woods, Medical Director of Sports Medicine at CoxHealth.

Bronny is an incoming freshmen basketball player at USC. While in practice, he collapsed, and according to sources, he was revived and is now out of intensive care. Doctors around the Ozarks say while the odds of this happening to your student-athletes may be low, there are some things you need to do outside of the regular physical exam.

“Just understanding the issues, the exercise-related chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, feeling like you’re going to pass out or passing out with sports,” said Dr. Woods. “And then knowing that family history is going to be very important from the patient standpoint.”

And from a trainer’s standpoint, like those in Strafford, easy access to an AED is vital.

“I personally carry an AED with me to every event I go,” said Strafford Athletic Trainer Caleb Morlan. “And we also have to have CPR and AED training every two years.”

Morlan says he and the rest of the coaching staff are trained in CPR, First aid, and how to use an AED. That being said, he says the fight starts with understanding your medical history.

“Unless you’ve had those, you know, medical tests or screens done, you’ll have no idea, and then you find out after the fact,” said Morlan. “That’s why you have people like me; most high schools are so that you have some rules training that can get them the care that they need so that they can get to the hospital and get.”

If you’re worried about your own or your student athlete’s cardiac health, consult your doctor with a thorough understanding of your family history to chat about the next steps.

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