Sudden cardiac death is the subject of my latest #fourminutemull, and it’s a lousy, horrible, no-good topic. It gets discussed, or though about, in the most tragic of circumstances, because it invariably means that a young, athletic person has died participating in sport. Everything else is made trivial by comparison.
The latest of these tragic cases is Michael Goolaerts, a 23-year old Belgian Pro cyclist who died of cardiac arrest competing in Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. The specifics remain unclear, but the specifics are not the focus of the video below.
Rather, what I wanted to do, in response to a few questions in the light of Goolaerts’ death, and to hopefully provide some context and awareness to what I think is a healthy degree of shock, incomprehension and grief, is provide some background for what is known about sudden cardiac death, especially in young athlete.
So the video talks through the prevalence, some of the possible causes, and some of the challenges in screening and identifying those at risk in order to prevent such tragedies from occurring. It is necessarily brief, but below the video, you will also find a handful of links to podcasts that the British Journal of Sports Medicine have produced in the last five years. They are slightly more detailed, and give you a chance to hear first-hand from experts about the intricacies of screening, prevention and treatment.
Here, though, is my brief overview:
Links to useful podcasts on the subject
- Preventing sudden cardiac death with Jon Drezner
- Sudden cardiac death in athletes with Christopher Burrell
- Sudden cardiac death prevention and screening with Aaaron Baggish
- Can ultra-endurance events damage the heart?