Area doctors weigh in on Damar Hamlin’s condition
CINCINATTI, OHIO (KVRR) —In the first quarter of a highly anticipated Monday Night matchup in Cincinnati, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin makes a routine tackle, then collapses after the play.
It caused confusion across the stadium and shocked the world when the public found out it wasn’t just any other injury, but a cardiac arrest.
After nine minutes of CPR, Hamlin’s heartbeat was restored, and he was immediately taken to a nearby hospital.
“You bring it home and say, ‘could this happen to my son or daughter or whoever is playing athletic sports?'” said Dr. Thomas Haldis, an interventional cardiologist at Sanford Health.
“To be honest, I think it’s a small miracle that he’s here today,” says Dr. Steve Westereng, the Chair of Sports Medicine at the University of North Dakota.
Experts say when an incident like this happens, the most important thing trainers need to look out for is a pulse.
People are still unsure how this happened, but doctors say there is a common link between physical activity and heart conditions.
“Sudden cardiac death on the field associated with athletics is one of those things that happen more commonly than we realize. This just happened to be on a nationally televised Monday Night Football game. Realistically, we don’t know what caused this problem. The end result, the facts of the facts, is that he had a cardiac arrest on the field and when you think about common things being common, it tends to be associated with underlying heart disease,” Dr. Haldis says.
The sooner you start CPR, the better chance you have to save brain tissue.
“The brain is very intolerant to lack of blood flow. You need to get that blood flowing until you can get the defibrillator pads on and restore normal rhythms. Ultimately that’s what happened on the field last night. It was just him in a big crowd,” says Dr. Haldis.
Experts say leagues are trained for emergencies and since this can happen anytime, anywhere, they worry about the tragic consequences of leagues that don’t have that professional support.
“I think you have a spectrum here. At the NFL, they plan for this. College, we plan for this. When you get down to the lower levels of high school or even rural high schools, you don’t have, maybe a healthcare professional there with the resources or the knowledge to deal with some of this,” Dr. Westereng said.
The Bills say the team is grateful for the outpouring of support and that Hamlin remains in the ICU at the University of Cincinatti Medical Center.
Both doctors stress the importance of learning CPR or brushing up on it.