Sioux Falls Washington High School graduate and basketball player Cole Peterson was all set to embark on his journey to Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn., until the shocking news of a cardiac arrest suffered by the University of Southern California freshman Bronny James shook him.
Like many young athletes, eighteen-year-old Peterson had never considered the possibility of a heart attack on the court. But the incident has brought the risks to the forefront of his mind. Sudden cardiac arrest, while uncommon, is the leading cause of natural death in young athletes, affecting roughly 1 in 15,000 to 1 in 50,000 individuals.
The reasons it occurs in seemingly low-risk individuals remain somewhat of a mystery. Dr. Nerveen Rajpurohit, a cardiologist at Sanford Heart Hospital, points out that there is still much to be learned about these conditions.
In many cases, even autopsy reports show no apparent cause.
Saving Lives Through Swift Response
The Bronny James incident highlights the importance of swift and effective responses by medical staff. Fortunately, the USC medical team's quick action played a crucial role in saving his life.
This has served as a reminder to trainers and medical staff at Sanford always to be prepared for emergencies and implement more athlete protection protocols. In response to such incidents, coaches in sports sanctioned by the South Dakota High School Activities Association are now required to undergo courses on handling athletes who collapse.
Most schools in South Dakota have an AED defibrillator device on hand, making it easier to revive a person experiencing cardiac arrest. For athletes and those around them, recognizing potential warning signs is crucial. Typical symptoms include chest pain, light-headedness, dizziness, and abnormal heart palpitations.
Parents are urged to ensure their young athletes receive a thorough physical examination from a family physician before each season. Although Peterson has never had a heart condition, he is now determined to adopt a healthier lifestyle to reduce his chances of a heart attack.
Getting adequate sleep, staying hydrated, and eating a balanced diet are some of the steps he plans to take to protect his heart health. Ultimately, incidents like the one involving Bronny James serve as a wake-up call for young athletes and their support systems to remain vigilant and prioritize heart health.
By taking preventative measures and being prepared for emergencies, the sports community can work together to minimize the risks and ensure the safety and well-being of all athletes.