The unexpected collapse of Danish footballer Christian Eriksen on the pitch of Euro 2020 Group B fixture on Saturday due to a cardiac arrest left people stunned. Aren’t athletes supposed to be healthy? Answering this question, UK-based Cardiologist Dr. Rohin Francis explains the causes and possibilities of cardiac arrests for a football player.
Dr Francis said, “It appears that Ericksen suffered a cardiac arrest. Meaning that his heart effectively stopped going into a highly abnormal rhythm where the heart doesn’t beat normally and sort of quivers with a disorganised electrical activity.”
This is rapidly fatal if not corrected with defibrillation, he said.
“Athlete’s hearts are unusual with repeated strenuous physical activity which cause changes to the heart. Such as it gets bigger and slower. But even more subtle microscopic scarring in the muscle itself.”
Answering on how athletes who are more fit and healthy compared to normal people, Dr Francis said professional sports people like footballers or cyclists push their bodies to the absolute limit.
“Sometimes it is impossible to differentiate whether the changes in their heart are due to exercise or due to any underlying cause.”
Answering the pressing question as to why wasn’t this picked up in medical screening, the said, “No test is 100% correct. There are false negatives.”
Adding to the reasons, Dr Francis said that maybe it was too subtle during the screening or a type of disease which we are yet to figure out.
Clearing doubts on whether Eriksen had COVID-19. He said, “We have no evidence that he had COVID.”
Coach Kasper Hjulmand said Eriksen had told him he did not remember much from Saturday’s collapse and that he was eager to get back on to the pitch.
In fact, Eriksen is not the only footballer to have suffered a cardiac arrest. In 2012, another footballer, Fabrice Muamba, collapsed on the pitch and his heart stopped for 78 minutes. Marc-Vivien Foe died at the age of 28, and former England defender Ugo Ehiogu, who was a Spurs coach, died in 2017, aged 44.
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