Can anything be done to prevent heart emergencies that surprise young people?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 8,349
    Dr. Robert O’Connor, professor & chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Virginia Health System, discusses what can be done to prevent heart emergencies among young people.

    Host: Can anything be done to prevent or treat heart emergencies that surprise seemingly healthy athletes and young people?

    Robert O'Connor: There are different entities. The one where an athlete or a adolescent is struck in the chest usually with a ball, usually does not recur. It sort of fluke event but what someone has to do is start CPR and wait till a defibrillator gets there and then once the adolescent is defibrillated, they usually have a restoration of normal heart rhythm but they don't have a structural problem with the heart that places them at risk for it happen it again.

    The athlete who suddenly collapses may have something called Prolong QT Syndrome or some other structural abnormality of the heart and that's really a different case. They may benefit from a implantable defibrillator. I think if there is any doubt in the patient's mind, they should have a cardiologist give an opinion is to whether or not they would benefit from having an implantable defibrillator.

    Most people with congenital heart problem it's usually a structural problem with the heart. In other words, there maybe an abnormal valve or some other structural abnormality of the heart and usually they are not as prone to sudden cardiac arrest. If someone who has a electrical abnormality of the heart, which is what you see in the athletes. So I would just say if there is any doubt ask your doctor and treatment to be told to the individual.

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