If it can happen to a professional athlete, it can happen to anyone

European Society of Cardiology

“It was a chilling sight for anyone who saw it,” said Professor Stephan Achenbach, president of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), the world’s largest organisation of heart doctors.

Christian Eriksen, a 29-year-old football player for Denmark, suddenly collapsed on the pitch in front of tens of thousands of spectators in the stadium and millions more watching on television. A medical team rushed to his side.

“Preliminary reports suggest that while he was being treated on the pitch, Christian’s heart stopped beating,” said Prof. Achenbach. “He was exceptionally fortunate that there was a medical team to immediately begin chest compressions and maintain blood flow. It probably saved his life.”

Eriksen is now awake in hospital undergoing a battery of tests.

Sudden cardiac arrest is a public health problem, accounting for 50% of cardiovascular deaths and 20% of all natural deaths in Western societies, according to a paper published in the European Heart Journal.1

“Cardiac arrest can occur anytime, anywhere,” said Prof. Achenbach. “The question is: Would you know how to respond? Every second is critical.”

When to help:

– Someone is not breathing or only gasping for air;

– not otherwise moving or blinking;

– not responding, even to hard taps.

How to help:

– Push down on the centre of the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 pushes a minute. Allow the chest to come back up to its normal position after each push;

– shout for someone to call an ambulance;

– ask bystanders to locate an AED (automated external defibrillator) and follow the instructions.

“You can´t do any harm by doing chest compressions” said Prof. Achenbach, “but you can save a life if the person is indeed in cardiac arrest.”

Sudden cardiac arrest is such a public health threat that the ESC has made it the spotlight of its online scientific conference, ESC Congress 2021, which will be held at the end of August.

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