Medical professional Jean-Claude Tardif says he is concerned that Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin is still in critical condition several hours after suffering cardiac arrest in Cincinnati last night.
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In an interview with QUB radio, the director of the Montreal Heart Institute Research Center and professor of medicine at the University of Montreal described the situation as unusual. “In theory, his heart was returned to normal. So, we should have expected him to feel good. More than 12 hours after the accident, we should not hear that he is still in critical condition. One wonders if he had a heart contusion or some other problem such as an undetected birth defect leading to this sudden death.
The latter mentioned that this kind of incident does not happen very often among athletes and the case of Mr. Hamlin is different from the others. “When we talk about sudden death in young people, it is often congenital heart disease problems or people who have narrowed heart valves. I don't think that's the case for this player."
Although he was not on site, Mr. Tardif believes that the athlete probably suffered a fatal heart rhythm disorder. “It happens when there is a trauma in the chest. We see this more often when an individual receives a projectile such as a baseball or a hockey puck. “The other option that could explain what happened is a heart contusion, thinks Mr. Tardif, recalling however that he especially advocates fatal arrhythmia.
Everyone can act
The emergency physician in the department of emergency medicine at the Montreal Heart Institute, Alain Vadeboncoeur, believes that everyone can intervene when they see an individual suffer a cardiac arrest. He mentions that the person performing heart massage and giving a shock are two life-saving actions.
The healthcare professional clarified that ventilation is no longer required for the general public, as CPR itself produces oxygenation, as there is some air movement. “If a person sees an individual lose consciousness, they must call for help, call for help and the defibrillator and start cardiac massage.”
Mr. Vadeboncoeur explains that a citizen must first recognize that the person has suffered a cardiac arrest. According to him, someone who falls suddenly for no reason will usually go into cardiac arrest due to arrhythmia. “You have to go to the person and stimulate them by trying to pinch them or by hitting them a little on the sternum. Someone in cardiac arrest will not wake up to stimulation and they have labored breathing or are not breathing at all. These factors are sufficient to conclude that cardiac massage is necessary.”
Alain Vadeboncoeur made it clear that using a defibrillator is simple. “Usually these are talking devices. So they're going to say undress the patient and apply the electrodes. The device will even tell us to massage once the shock has been given. Even an untrained teenager can use it.”
Well aware that we cannot know how a person will react in an emergency situation, Dr. Vadeboncoeur replies that practice is the best way to deal with this kind of event. “It is not for nothing that there are training courses that exist. When the gestures are practiced repeatedly on a dummy, it becomes automatic. That said, bad technique is better than none at all.”