Sudden cardiac death in basketball players in the United States: Public health implications


Authors: Travis Pearson, Victoriann Jones, Evan DeMonte, Chanpreet Mangat, Jounaidou Mbouemboue, Osazee Eguagie, and Emmanuel O Keku
Page Range: 49-55
Published in: International Public Health Journal, 15#1 (2023)
ISSN: 1947-4989

Table of Contents


This literature review examined the different etiologies leading to sudden cardiac death in basketball players and the interventions that different institutions have taken to reduce its incidence. Methods: The review was conducted using search engines including, but not limited to, Google Scholar, Medline, EBSCO Host, and PubMed. The keywords used to find potentially relevant articles included “sudden death,” “sudden cardiac death,” “sudden cardiac arrest,” and “basketball.” Results: Literature suggests that sudden cardiac death can be caused by an enormous release of catecholamines during the physiological stress response which activates adrenergic receptors. This could lead to ventricular arrhythmias, myocardial ischemia due to coronary vasospasm, and coronary artery occlusion leading to myocardial infarction. The most frequent etiology leading to sudden cardiac arrest and death is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The current protocol for screening recommended by the American Heart Association consists of a personal and family history along with a physical examination. While the protocol for screening varies among high schools and colleges, the National Basketball Association has a standardized protocol for all thirty teams involving: history, physical examination, blood work, electrocardiogram, and echocardiogram testing. Conclusion: This literature review suggests that the current protocol for cardiac screening at the high school and college levels is insufficient and should incorporate more testing, including electrocardiogram.

Keywords: Sudden death, sudden cardiac death, sudden cardiac arrest, basketball, United States

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