Sudden cardiac arrest is very common in athletes, the risks are increased by 2.8 times in competitive athletes compared to non competitive athletes (World Rugby, 2023). Cardiac arrest doesn’t just strike during a rugby tournament but it could happen during a gym session or during any intense physical activity. Steff Howells, a twenty seven year old playing for Cardiff suffered a cardiac arrest whilst on the pitch and subsequently needed almost twenty minutes of CPR. Steff Howells had played over a hundred games of rugby, being young, fit and healthy a cardiac arrest was not something he was expecting (BBC, 2023). Steff was extremely lucky to have a defibrillator on pitch to use before he was taken to hospital. The key is to always be prepared as you never know when and to whom a cardiac arrest could happen.
What causes cardiac arrest in rugby players
A sudden cardiac arrest is the loss of all heart activity caused by an irregular heart rhythm. Some conditions if left untreated can cause a cardiac arrest; heart valve disease, congenital heart disease (BHF, 2023) or even other cases such as drug overdose, hypoxia, heavy alcohol consumption or even severe emotional stress (NIH, 2023). Intense physical exercise can be the trigger of a cardiac arrest if there are already these underlying conditions present. However, cardiac arrest does not discriminate and a lot of cases are undiagnosed and are left without a cause. This is why regular cardiac screening should take place especially if you’re part of a sports team such as rugby as well as first aid training particularly on the use of an automated external defibrillator.
Can you play rugby again after a cardiac arrest
Being able to get back into rugby after a cardiac arrest will very much depend on the severity of the incident as well as the recovery time. For example Steff Howells is back to doing ‘light exercises’ (BBC, 2023). The chances of survival from a cardiac arrest is doubled if prompt action with a defibrillator is provided. There is also a huge gap for more awareness and education as studies show defibrillators were available in 79% of cases but only used 10% of cases (BHF, 2023). This is why first aid training entailing CPR and automated external defibrillator use are imperative to any rugby athletic trainer and their team.
AED Management & Maintenance
Your automated external defibrillator should always be ready to rescue, an AED itself requires little maintenance, including a monthly check. It’s vital to ensure the upkeep of an AED as not only does it keep it ready for emergencies but also keeps it in a hygienic state. For more information on how to maintain a defibrillator, visit our guide here.
How can Defib help?
Here at Defib we can ensure the whole rugby team is ready to respond in any situation! We not only equip the team with a defibrillator but also provide team training in how to use a defibrillator as well as CPR and basic life support. The training can be provided at a location convenient to your football team and no prior experience is needed, if you’d like more information about the training, you can find it here. All our defibrillators we offer adhere to the British safety standards and regulations, a full list of the current defibrillators can be found here.
Being qualified for any emergency whether it be on a normal day or whilst competing on a pitch you can be rest assured that you and your team will be skilled in saving a life! Why wait? Contact us today!