Medical expert weighs in on cases of cardiac arrest

Jan 3, 2023, 8:30 PM

A local medical expert joined KSL at Night to discuss cardiac arrest after Buffalo Bills safety suf...

Damar Hamlin, of the Buffalo Bills, looks on prior to a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on Sept. 25, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest non Monday, Jan. 2, 2023 in a game against Cincinnati. A local medical expert joins KSL at Night to discuss the problem. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

(Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest Monday night during a game with the Cincinnati Bengals. And remained in critical condition on Tuesday at a Cincinnati hospital.

Dr. Jared Bunch, a cardiologist at the University of Utah, joined KSL at Night Tuesday with Leah Murray and Derek Brown to discuss the occurrence of cardiac arrest in sports across around nation.

The occurrence of cardiac arrest

Brown asked how common of an occurrence is this?

“It’s quite rear, and in fact in the case of the collegian experience is around 400 to 500 people total that have had cardiac arrest and survived,” he said. “You consider the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands that participate each year. So, it’s rare, but it’s also catastrophic because you’re looking at people that are playing athletics, they’re healthy. They look healthy.”

Brown then asked Bunch what causes this kind of an event.

“There’s a variety of things,” Bunch said. “Some of the more common is some people are born with a genetic condition where the heart will thicken. And then under extreme stress, it obstructs blood flow. Some people are born with heart arteries that aren’t normal.” 

Bunch says he experienced a similar situation to the Buffalo Bills player at Utah State. He says several years ago a player was warming to play against BYU. And in the process of warming up, the player had a cardiac arrest. 

He said the staff there had been trained on early recognition and had a defibrillator courtside.

Ultimately, Bunch said the player went on to play professional basketball and has led a completely normal life.

State bill to address the problem

Utah Rep. Melissa Ballard (R-District 20) filed a bill last month that would require training and informational material available for youth sports. So, those involved in youth sports would be able to recognize the warning signs of cardiac arrest.

Murray asked Bunch if the lawmaker was right.

“Sure,” he said. “Education’s key, understanding recognition is key.”

He also stresses that defibrillators are vitally important, and says they are designed for anybody to use. 


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Medical expert weighs in on cases of cardiac arrest