Answers to Athletes and Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Premier Health providers and athletic trainers answer frequently asked questions about sudden cardiac arrest.

If an athlete survives a sudden cardiac arrest, what are the risks of another incident?

Dr. Michael Barrow discusses the risks of another sudden cardiac arrest for an athlete with an underlying problem who survived a previous sudden cardiac episode. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.


For athletes who survive a sudden cardiac arrest, the first thing we do is stabilize them and get them to a hospital. Then we do a work-up to find out why they had the sudden cardiac arrest and what we can to prevent that from occurring in the future. If there’s an underlying problem that we can fix, then we can substantially reduce, but not eliminate, the risks for recurrence.

Ultimately the athlete is released from the hospital. If there is an existing cause for the sudden cardiac arrest, the athlete may be unable to return to certain sports.

Structural problems with the heart often can be fixed to reduce the risk for a sudden cardiac arrest event. Electrical problems can be managed with an implanted defibrillator, which is a device like a pacemaker. A pacemaker emits a low-level shock on a regular basis to keep the heart beating properly. An implanted defibrillator gives more of a jolt to restart the heart. That’s what we use to prevent sudden cardiac arrest.

Learn more:

Chelsea L. Gilliam, APRN-CNP, AGACNP-BC

Piqua Family Practice

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Source: Michael W. Barrow, MD, Samaritan North Family Physicians; American Heart Association; National Institutes of Health; Nik Berger, MS, AT, ATC, Premier Health Sports Medicine – Miami Valley Hospital South; Jeffrey James, DO, Premier Orthopedics; Sean Convery, MD, Premier Orthopedics; Jeffrey Rayborn, MD, Premier Orthopedics