Sudden Cardiac Death in football worrying

PRACTICAL steps have to be taken for certain goals to be achieved.
I have been in discussion with my colleagues on the happenings around us concerning our brothers who have died in the last two weeks.
It is the quality of medical response that many have observed which really leaves much to be desired.
I saw with sadness what transpired in Ivory Coast when late Congolese music maestro Papa Wemba fell to the floor during a live concert.
What was more touching as I watched the video clip was the quality of first aid or emergency care that was administered to him.
However, my interest is on football, which is mainly played by energetic young adults.
Football has seen three deaths of young adults of which two have been male and one female in the last ten days.
All these deaths have happened on the pitch.
On Friday, May 6, 2016, a Cameroonian international Patrick Claude Ekeng died after collapsing.
He was featuring for Romanian side Dinamo Bucharest.
This demise is a reminder to football authorities to put measures in place to prevent sudden cardiac deaths (SCD’s).
Three days later another female Cameroonian player died in similar fashion during warm up.
The list of soccer players who have collapsed and died on the field of play is increasing.
I imagine a similar thing happening in Zambia at any of our local games and my wish is that none of this unfortunate incident should happen.
In the event that it does happen, which is a possibility then we have a real medical challenge.
To be honest our local medical teams at different local stadia are far from being ready to handle such situations.
If countries like Romania, Israel, Belgium and many other developed countries have recorded deaths on the field of play then we have a lot of work to do in Zambia.
Many people might argue that if sudden deaths have been recorded in developed countries then countries like Zambia and many others with limited or inadequate medical facilities cannot do much about this.
I disagree with such a way of thinking and uphold the role of medicine in saving lives especially where the causes are known.
In the past few years FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) have recognised the need to enhance medical care of players who suddenly collapse and require timely resuscitation.
It has to be appreciated that each minute that passes in a collapsed player counts.
This has led to FIFA and CAF allowing medical personnel to move on the pitch without the referees permission whenever they suspect a sudden cardiac arrest.
It is the quick recognition that someone is having a cardiac arrest, which will enable timely medical intervention.
The picture of Fabrice Muamba a few years ago is a typical example of a timely and well-handled scenario that saved his life after he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest whilst featuring for Bolton Wanderers.
Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) is the most common cause of unnatural death in sports men.
This is mainly seen in young fit adults who would suddenly collapse and, if nothing is done in the immediate, leads to death. FIFA through the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC) has remained committed to a programme of research, education, standardisation and implementation of emergency management of sudden cardiac arrests (SCA).
I recently had a chance to have a look at one of the ambulances meant for responding to emergencies at one of our local stadia.
What I saw and came to appreciate is that we are far from being ready to responding to a sudden cardiac arrest on the field of play. Though FIFA and CAF are doing their best, many clubs in Zambia do not prioritise having qualified medical personnel with knowledge on how to respond to emergencies.
Many club administrators do not feel that it is important to have a complete medical team to take care of the different needs for players.
They are always thinking of attaching cost at the expense of the players lives and at times there own lives.
A medical emergence on the field of play can also affect a team official.
The other observation is that some of the club medical staff have assumed a role of being called team doctors instead of sticking to their core responsibilities as their training entails.
This scenario has compromised the care of the players because competences differ between a physiotherapist, clinical officer, nurse, doctor and many others.
It is vital for all medical staff to proudly practice their specific area in order to avoid mismanaging players and protect human life. Zambia has to reach a stage of being adequately prepared for the management of emergencies that might occur on the field of play.
In case of a sudden cardiac arrest in Zambia a timely diagnosis of that has to be made in a period of less than one minute and resuscitation using an automated external defibrillator in addition to the usual cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) instituted within three to five minutes in order to enhance chances of survival for the victim.
The first cardiac shock on the field of play has to be given within three minutes at least if a life is to be saved.
In this instance of sudden cardiac arrest, the time component becomes very crucial.
Like Professor Efraim Krammer from South Africa who is a specialist in this field and prominent FIFA instructor on cardiac arrests would say” Every second counts when you are faced with a suspected Cardiac Arrest on the field of Play”.
For questions and comments write to: Dr Kabungo Joseph
Email: zengajk@yahoo. com or kateulejk@gmail. com

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