From Dribbles to Rescues: The Intersection of Sports and CPR in St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg, Florida, is renowned for its beautiful beaches, cultural diversity, and thriving sports scene, with teams in four major sports. From the Tampa Bay Rays to the Tampa Bay Rowdies, sports enthusiasts have a lot to cheer for in this vibrant community.

However, beyond the excitement of the games, there’s a link that’s often overlooked but incredibly crucial – the intersection between sports and CPR. Although rare, sudden cardiac arrests in athletes are tragic events. Therefore, we aim to delve into the vital role of CPR in sports emergencies and how the situation can be improved in St. Petersburg.

The Unseen Connection: Sports and Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest during sports is dreadful, especially among young people. In numerous regions, pre-participation screening programs have been put into practice with the belief that most instances of sudden cardiac arrest during sporting activities can be anticipated and prevented. This is achieved by identifying individuals at risk, disallowing them from engaging in competitive sports, and, in certain cases, employing therapeutic preventive measures.

The number of sudden cardiac deaths in young individuals (usually under 35 years old) varies from 1.0 to 6.4 cases per 100,000 patient years. The risk of sudden cardiac arrest goes up when they’re doing sports, and most of these events happen during or immediately after physical exercise. In athletes of high school age, SCD is between 1:100 000 and 1:300 000 athletes, and it is much more common in males.

How to Recognize Cardiac Emergencies in Sports?

The most noticeable sign of a heart attack is persistent chest pain or pressure. Unfortunately, these symptoms are often mistaken for indigestion, muscle cramps, or other chest-related issues. However, in athletes who experience cardiac emergencies while active, these typical symptoms may not occur. Instead, they immediately experience SCA with sudden loss of consciousness during a game or practice, seemingly for no reason.

Although such emergencies are rare, they are critical and need immediate attention. Prepared healthcare providers should have a plan to handle these situations. A physical therapist (PT) needs to act promptly by checking if the athlete has a pulse and is breathing. If there’s no breathing, the pulse will soon weaken as well.

Prevention Measures

It’s been recognized that physical activity can sometimes trigger life-threatening heart rhythm abnormalities like tachycardia and fibrillation, which can be hidden in individuals with underlying heart problems.

To prevent sudden cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death in athletes, international sports governing bodies like the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) recommend screening athletes before competitions to identify those with high-risk cardiovascular conditions (HRCC).

However, even with preventive measures in place, sudden cardiac arrest can still occur. In such cases, the priority is to restore blood circulation as quickly as possible to improve the chances of survival. This also includes training individuals to provide rapid bystander CPR, which involves chest compressions, and using an AED to deliver shocks within 3-5 minutes at the site of the incident.

Why CPR Training Matters in Sports?

CPR skills are an invaluable asset in every aspect of our daily lives. Here’s why CPR training matters in sports as well:

    • Immediate Response: In a cardiac emergency in sports, every second is significant. When someone goes into cardiac arrest, immediate CPR can raise their chances of survival. With thousands of spectators in sports venues in St. Petersburg, having trained individuals who can start CPR right away is crucial.

    • Heart Health Awareness: Sporting events often attract fans of all ages. The presence of trained CPR providers in sports settings can also serve as a reminder of the importance of heart health and knowing how to respond in a cardiac emergency.

    • Potential Risks: Sports, especially those involving physical exertion, can sometimes cause unforeseen health issues. While athletes typically receive top-notch medical care, spectators may not have the same support. Having individuals in the crowd trained in CPR can provide an added layer of safety.

How Is CPR Associated With Improved Survival in Sports Emergencies?

A 2021 analysis of internet videos of sudden cardiac arrest events during sports showed that immediate bystander CPR within 3 minutes or 3-5 minutes and defibrillation within 3 minutes was associated with a 100% survival rate.

On the other hand, when CPR and defibrillation were not performed, it resulted in death for 14 out of the 29 analyzed cases. Additionally, any delay exceeding 5 minutes in initiating these life-saving measures was linked to severe neurological dysfunction or death in 4 out of 29 cases.

The study suggests timely application of CPR and AED interventions is critical for improving survival rates. However, it also points out that the recognition of the problem of cardiac arrest during sports is lacking, as many recent videos do not show an increase in the number of athletes receiving early resuscitation.

CPR Assessment and Intervention in Sports Events

Proficiency in CPR techniques and operating an AED is a fundamental necessity. These skills are mandatory for aspiring sports specialists certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS).

In cardiac emergencies, a CPR-trained individual should start with the standard methods for assessing breathing. If there’s no respiratory effort, you should open the airway appropriately. In cases of neck injury concern, use the chin lift-jaw thrust maneuver. If there’s no airflow, initiate rescue breathing. Check for a pulse, and if absent, start CPR after calling 911.

Effective chest compression involves hand placement over the sternum’s tip, interlocking fingers, and positioned elbows. Administer 30 compressions at a rate of 100 per minute, then recheck breathing and continue until a medical team arrives.

The Role of AEDs in Sports Safety

AEDs are typically available at sports events on the sidelines or near the courts. If an athlete collapses and is unresponsive, suspecting sudden cardiac arrest and applying the AED as soon as possible for a heart rhythm analysis and possible defibrillation is essential.

The chances of using the AED on athletes are relatively low compared to its potential use on game officials, coaches, or spectators at the event. However, having an AED on hand makes the response more efficient and beneficial.

Quick recognition of emergencies, availability of an AED for early defibrillation, effective collaboration among responders and trained rescuers on the site, and AED training programs increase the chances of successfully managing a SCA incident in sports.

How to Get CPR Certified in St. Petersburg

If you’re a sports enthusiast or just a concerned community member in St. Petersburg, getting CPR certified is worthwhile. Here’s how you can go about it:

Find the Right CPR Course: Start by looking for CPR courses in St. Petersburg and select one with accreditation from reputable organizations like the American Heart Association (AHA) or the American Red Cross (ARC). Do thorough research and consider the costs and course length to ensure it suits your needs.

Attend Classes: Enroll in the course and attend the classes. Hands-on sessions that provide practice opportunities and realistic training scenarios might align best with your goals.

Get Certified: After completing the course, you’ll receive a CPR certification card, which you’ll need to renew after two years. The recertification is crucial for maintaining your readiness and confidence to perform CPR.

The Good Samaritan Law in Florida

In Florida, the law generally doesn’t require individuals to assist injured persons. However, the Good Samaritan law comes into play when someone voluntarily provides aid. At that point, a duty arises to exercise due care and act reasonably and with good judgment in such circumstances. This standard is objective and legally defined.

Under the Florida Good Samaritan Act, anyone, including licensed medical professionals, who provides emergency care in good faith during an emergency is protected from civil liability for any resulting damages.

From Dribbles to Rescues: Key Takeaways

St. Petersburg’s thriving sports culture thrills crowds and unites communities. Yet, the vital intersection of sports and CPR often goes unspoken. Sudden cardiac events, though rare, can be devastating, especially for young athletes. Prompt CPR response, trained individuals at sports events, and strategically positioned AEDs are crucial for each participant’s safety.

With immediate bystander CPR interventions being associated with a 100% survival rate in sports, embracing CPR certification shows proactive community responsibility. The Good Samaritan law in Florida protects those who act in good faith, hence encouraging everyone to get CPR training and ensure sports are enjoyed with confidence and safety.