There is a common misconception that by playing sport, particularly at a very high level, this can lead to Sudden Cardiac Arrest. It is not surprising as in the last ten years we have seen some very high profile sports people who have been affected by Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Within the GAA community, Cormac MacAnallen’s death had a profound affect on a lot of people. Cormac was only 24, in the prime of his fitness and the captain of the Tyrone team. He died suddenly in his sleep on 2nd March 2004 (thecormactrust.com). More recently the young Dublin football under 21’s player Ciaran Carr collapsed while training on the pitch on 20th January 2012 and sadly died (ciarancarrfoundation.ie). Both players would have had an underlying heart condition that they were not aware of. By playing sport, this accelerated the condition (as you are putting extra strain on the heart), however, it did not cause them to collapse.
People who have heart conditions carry a slightly higher risk of sudden death during periods of fairly intensive activity than at other times. This is why as a precaution, if someone is diagnosed with a cardiac disorder they will often be advised to avoid competitive sport or endurance training as this can bring on heart failure.
Thankfully if the right equipment is nearby you can survive a Sudden Cardiac Arrest. The Bolton player Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch while playing against Spurs in White Hart Lane on 17th March 2012. Muamba’s heart stopped for an alarming 78 minutes and thanks to a defibrillator and the medical team nearby he survived. He has now made a full recovery. However, because of his heart condition he has had to retire from the game. Just recently CRY were delighted when the Dublin minor hurler Cormac Ryan undertook a cycle around Ireland for three charities including ours. Cormac was lucky that he discovered that he had a heart condition before anything serious happened. He is an amazing young man and is a great example of how to live well with a heart condition.
The Dublin senior football player Michael Darragh Macauley was recently screened at the CRYP Centre in Tallaght Hospital. Thankfully he received a clean bill of health and according to Dr. Ward, he has a beautiful heart – some of the ladies may agree with this! Check out the segment below from Ireland AM.
Orla Durkan, CRY Ireland.