Cardiac arrest top killer for student athletes

Aug 1, 2023, 7:00 PM

One week after his heart stopped during football practice, Utah State University freshman wide rece...

One week after his heart stopped during football practice, Utah State University freshman wide receiver Josh Davis is giving thanks to the trainers who kept him alive. (Utah State University)

(Utah State University)

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah State University student athlete said life-saving measures saved his life after he had a heart attack on the field. 

Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in young athletes. Estimates vary, but some reports suggest that about 1-in-50,000 to 1-in-80,000 young athletes die of sudden cardiac death each year. For comparison, the incidence of sudden cardiac arrest in the general population is about 1-in-1,000 people yearly, according to Mayo Clinic Health System.

Recently, USC Trojans freshman Bronny James, 18, son of Lakers star LeBron James, suffered cardiac arrest during a team workout.

During a Monday Night Football game on Jan. 2, 2023, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin also suffered cardiac arrest after a tackle.

“And then he got up and just went right back down to the ground,” said announcer Joe Buck during the moment Hamlin collapsed.

CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and an AED (automated external defibrillator) were given to Hamlin before he was transported to a local hospital in critical condition.

In March, Utah State Aggie football player Josh Davis was struck by a cardiac arrest and collapsed at  practice. Davis was told by doctors that CPR “110 percent saved his life.”

Josh Davis: CPR By Utah State Football Staff ‘Saved My Life’

Football career ends suddenly

Dave & Dujanovic speak with Davis about his experience and what he learned from it.

Davis said it took about two months for him to get back to his normal physical routine.

“So I kind of took that month or two to work slowly and kind of recovering my body and just starting to get back to what I could do normally,” he said.

“Is there something that caused [your heart] to stop or do you know, Josh?” Debbie asked.

Davis said while he was in the hospital he had tests performed and plans to meet with cardiac specialists but there is no clear cause yet identified.

“As far as right now, it was kind of just an anomaly and [I am] not really too sure exactly,” he said.

“Have you made a decision on what you’re going to do with your athletic career?” Dave asked.

Davis said his doctors advised him to stop playing football because a sudden impact could cause another heart attack.

“How are you doing with that?” Dave asked.

“It’s been tough, especially kind of first hearing that news, and me just kind of getting into my college football career,” Davis said. “But I’m planning on still being with the team this year and helping them out in any different way I can, so I think that’s gonna help a lot.”

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Cardiac arrest top killer for student athletes