Sudden death in cricketers is rare, with the most common causes being cardiac, neurological (head/neck trauma, mainly from ball impact) and environmental (e.g., lightning strike and heat stroke, the former which usually involves cardiac arrest). The aim of this study was to review possible prevention of sudden cardiac death and make recommendations.
Materials and methods
A literature review of possible causes of sudden cardiac death (SCD) among cricketers was performed, along with evaluation of evidence for existing preventative measures. The method for evaluation was expert panel (cardiology and sports medicine) consensus recommendations based on the published evidence base.
Potential cardiac causes of sudden death while playing cricket can be divided into the following categories: (1) atraumatic-origin preexisting arrhythmias, cardiomyopathies and valve disorders (2) traumatic-origin arrhythmia (commotio cordis) (3) acquired coronary or valvular disease (4) viral myocarditis (5) Lightning strike. Preventive measures can be divided into pre-season (e.g., cardiovascular screening), prematch (e.g., assessment of viral illness), protective equipment (e.g., chest guards) and post-event (presence of first aid response including defibrillators). Our panel agreed that there was strong evidence that (1) trained and planned emergency response particularly with a defibrillator is effective at preventing SCD and (2) ceasing play in the presence of lightning strikes prevents lightning-related death (3) players with symptoms, risk factors or history suggestive of possible cardiac disease should undertake specific individual workup. There are other potential methods to prevent SCD, with expert level recommendations made in the absence of strong evidence.
Discussion and conclusion
The most controversial aspect of prevention of SCD is electrocardiogram (ECG) screening of asymptomatic players and this paper outlines the arguments both in favor and against without fully resolving the debate. The possible increase in early diagnosis of potentially life-threatening cases needs to be balanced against the risk of false positive results which may lead to discussion of exclusion from cricket. Cardiac workup is clearly of net benefit to symptomatic individuals (e.g. history of syncope, chest pain) or any player at higher than usual baseline risk (e.g., positive family history). Basic life support including access to defibrillators should be available with trained personnel wherever they can be afforded, which has strong evidence in favor of improving survival at the time of cardiac arrest.
How to cite this article
Orchard JW, Puranik R, Semsarian C, Orchard JJ, Samra D, Duflou J, Groenestein P, Young M, Brukner P, Kountouris A. Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Death in Cricketers. J Postgrad Med Edu Res 2016;50(2):49-58.