There are a range of conditions which can cause SCA arrest in athletes. In general terms the most common cause of SCA in football players is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. In athletes over the age of 35 years however, the most common cause is due to coronary artery disease.
Having identified the sudden cardiac arrest, an immediate response onto the field of play is needed. Any athlete who collapses and is unresponsive, particularly if it occurs without contact with another athlete, is to be regarded as a sudden cardiac arrest until proved otherwise. In this situation any seizure-like activity and/or agonal respirations should be regarded as a sudden cardiac arrest
Once you have called for help, you should commence continuous chest compressions. Press hard and fast.
The rescuer can either do:
- Compression-only CPR, which involves compression of the chest without any interruption for breathing.
- Standard CPR with 30 compressions to 2 rescue breaths.
Both of these measures currently have the same clinical outcomes. Sudden cardiac arrest in an active athlete on the field usually means that the blood oxygen saturation level is sufficient for hands-only chest compression to be undertaken for the first few minutes of CPR. After that an effective form of rescue ventilation should be initiated via mouth-to-mask or manual resuscitator ventilation, with or without supplemental oxygen, and with or without use of an appropriate airway.