Heart Screenings for Athletes
With Buffalo Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin still recovering after going into cardiac arrest during a game, experts are looking at the relation of heart conditions and athletes.
Dr. Jeremy Lum, division chief of cardiology at Hawaii Pacific Health, recently spoke with Hawaii News Now about the importance of heart screenings for athletes and the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest.
"During a cardiac arrest, the heart suddenly stops beating. As a result, there is no blood flow to the brain or the body," Lum explained.
A heart attack, on the other hand, involves a blockage of some sort to one of the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart.
"A heart attack can sometimes lead to a cardiac arrest, but there are other conditions as well that cause a cardiac arrest," Lum said.
According to Lum, time is of the essence when treating a cardiac arrest. The first step is CPR, which will help restore blood flow to the brain and body.
The next step is defibrillation, which is usually provided by paramedics. However, it can also be delivered from an automated external defibrillator (AED). These devices, which can readily be found in public places malls, schools and airports, deliver a shock to restart normal heart rhythm. An AED also can detect a dangerous arrhythmia that could trigger another cardiac arrest.
Lum said due to the stress sports can pose on the heart, most athletes performing at the college and professional level will undergo some sort of health exam to screen for any potentially dangerous heart condition.
"Usually this starts with a thorough medical history and examination," he said. "Oftentimes, they'll need other cardiac testing, such as EKGs, stress test and echocardiograms."
This segment originally aired Jan. 11, 2023, as part of the Hawaii News Now "Sunrise" Healthier Hawaii series. Watch the full broadcast here or below.
Published on: January 13, 2023