After Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field following what appeared to be a routine tackle on Monday (January 2), the sports world began offering prayer for the 24-year-old after it was revealed CPR was administered to him to restore his heartbeat.
Shortly after midnight eastern, the Bills released an update on Hamlin’s condition via Twitter.
“Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest following a hit in our game versus the Bengals,” the tweet read. “His heartbeat was restored on the field, and he was transferred to the UC Medical Center for further testing and treatment. He is currently sedated and listed in critical condition.”
Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest, and while his situation is dire, there’s a noted difference between suffering a cardiac arrest, heart failure, and even a heart attack. A cardiac event is among the most common causes of health ailments for Black men and women, and heart disease remains the top cause of death for humans worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, 17.9 million people lost their lives to heart disease in 2019, accounting for more than 32 percent of deaths.
What is cardiac arrest?
A Cardiac arrest results from electrical disturbances that suddenly cause the heart to stop beating properly.
In cardiac arrest, death can occur quickly if help is not immediately rendered. “Cardiac arrest may be reversed if CPR is performed and a defibrillator shocks the heart and restores a normal heart rhythm within a few minutes,” according to the American Heart Association.
Another variation of cardiac arrest is commotio cordis, a disruption of heart rhythm after a blow to the area directly over the heart at a critical time during a heartbeat cycle. It is a rare occurrence, but given the nature of the play Hamlin was injured in, many doctors have suggested this as what occurred to him.
What is a heart attack?
A heart attack occurs when a blocked artery prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching a section of the heart. If the blocked artery is not reopened quickly, the part of the heart normally nourished by that artery begins to die. The longer a person goes without treatment, the greater the damage.
What is heart failure?
Heart failure is a condition that occurs when the heart, essentially a pump, cannot effectively push blood out through the arteries and circulatory system to the body’s other organs and tissues.
Congestive heart failure, a worsening of this general condition, means blood flow from the heart through the arteries has slowed while blood returning to the heart through the veins has begun to back up, and combined, they cause congestion – a blood traffic jam – in the body’s tissues.
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