A spotlight on out of hospital cardiac arrest

By Dr Jonathan Shurlock

NFL player Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest after making a tackle during a live game in a televised moment that has been widely discussed since. Hamlin received around 10 minutes of CPR on the pitch before being moved to an ambulance and transferred to University of Cincinnati Medical Center. There has been no further update regarding his clinical condition.

There has been widespread speculation regarding the aetiology of Hamlin’s cardiac arrest, from a wide variety of clinicians and other individuals. Further speculation is inappropriate given the lack of formal statement from Hamlin’s family. More important at this stage is to highlight the massive impact of early CPR and defibrillation on survival of out of hospital cardiac arrest, regardless of the setting (See more from BHF here). These widely seen events are emotionally charged and often traumatic for those involved. A focus on any potential reinforcement of public health messaging is one way to help.

Out of hospital cardiac arrests in the sporting setting are not limited to participants. Another widely covered recent case of a visiting fan to Brighton and Hove Albion, again demonstrated the importance of early CPR. For Bob Whetton this occurred within 2 minutes of collapse resulting in survival and good neurological recovery (See full story here).

Such cases often bring an international spotlight onto the role of cardiology in this context, as individuals, clinicians, and societies the focus should be on helpful reinforcement of public health strategies and messages, rather than speculation and hypotheses.