Heart health in the spotlight after Bills’ player injury

Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 8:38 AM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Over the last week and a half, the country has followed the injury and recovery of Buffallo Bills’ Safety Damar Hamlin. He suffered cardiac arrest while playing against the Cincinnati Bengals on January 2 and has since been released from a hospital in Buffalo.

His injury has shined a spotlight on cardiac arrest and the importance of heart health.

Cardiac arrest happens when your heart stops beating because of a heart arrhythmia, which can be caused when signals to your heart get interrupted. It’s different from a heart attack, which happens when the flow of blood to your heart is stopped or slowed.

With cardiac arrest, there are typically no warning signs. In the case of Damar Hamlin, several factors may have contributed.

“This is a very rare finding of athletes collapsing like this on a court or football field,” said Matthew Cain, a Cardiac Electrophysiologist. “The reality is that, while we don’t know everything about that situation, more likely there may have been something rare, underlying, and genetic at play in combination with a just right moment on a football field that led to this extremely tragic event.”

Symptoms of cardiac arrest include sudden collapse, no pulse, no breathing, loss of consciousness. Symptoms of a heart attack are chest pain, pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, arms, or shoulders, lightheadedness or weakness and shortness of breath.

If you or someone around you experiences any of these symptoms, call 911 right away because response time is critical.