Should the NFL Consider Echocardiograms for All NFL Players?
Athlete’s deaths over the last several years and especially with deaths of high school athletes as well as the death Gaines Adams’ a few years ago, should have the NFL reviewing its evaluation process for its professional football players related to unknown heart conditions. Should they consider Echocardiograms for All NFL Players?
Other incidences of players injuries – such as Damar Hamlin (2023) – during a football game against the Cincinnati Bengals also have heightened the fear around cardiac events. Hamlin’s injury was a serious event that likely would not have been seen on Echocardiogram as it was an injury which occured because of contact to the chest. Learn more about – Commotio Cordis here.
The National Football League has created their own Cardiovascular committee and are considering putting into play a heart scan called an Echocardiogram.
The Heart is one of the more concerning aspects of sudden death leading to cardiac arrest. Deaths can be seen from high school students up to professional athletes.
The first group affected may be those who will be invited to the NFL combine in February. The largest concern is the fear of legal liability. In addition the concern is where will, if any, cut off line and will it be the cardiologists that stop the career of a player.
Many questions still linger regarding the evaluation process. An echocardiogram is only the beginning of evaluation.
Other more sensitive tests such as a Cardio Catheter Procedure, EKG, and other tests may follow. But at what point would they be required.
The current guideline is when a player had a family history of heart problems or an abnormal EKG then a echocardiogram may be ordered. But they may need to reevaluate echocardiograms for All NFL players.
It is essential to understand that not all injuries or cardiac related events are the same.
Gaines Adams, who had a cardiac event, had an autopsy showing that he had an enlarged heart which can also be referred to as Cardiomyopathy, and this condition can often lead to cardiac arrest.
Further investigation showed that Adams had a normal EKG and no family history of cardiac abnormalities.
He went into Cardiac arrest at his family’s home in South Carolina.
Damar Hamlin had no underlining cardiac problems and his injury – a direct impact to his chest caused him to go into cardiac arrest on the field. Immediate CPR (for nine minutes on the field) and again later likely helped save his life.
Commotio Cordis can be life threatening but improvements are seen upon immediate performance of CPR on an effected individual.
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