Soccer’s Angel of Death

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Since the year 2010, 29 Professional Soccer players have died on the field or shortly after their match.

These men were in the best shape of their lives and nearly all of them were under the age of 25. Many of them had perfect health records and had passed the required medical checkups needed to play European Football. In fact, many of these players were considered to be the most fit athletes on their respected teams.

Former professional footballer for the Bolton Wanderers, Fabrice Muamba, suffered massive cardiac arrest during a televised match against Tottenham Hotspur on March 17, 2012. He was unresponsive and went without a heartbeat for 78 minutes after his initial collapse. Even though he received multiple defibrillator burst on the field and on the way to the hospital, he remained unresponsive until he reached the hospital. Luckily for Muamba, he regained awareness of his surroundings later that day and within 19 hours was removed from critical condition to serious and eventually to stable condition.

Muamba was forced to retire due to this injury, and is now apart of the coaching staff of the English club Liverpool. He still struggles with occasional heart problems even though before his injury he had no previous signs nor symptoms of heart related issues.

For many players around the world a land mine is waiting around the corner, these heart problems which are usually not seen until it is too late are waiting to take the careers or even the lives of young men and women around the footballing community.

Former soccer player Zachary Herold is an example of a player who’s career was taken before its time. Herold, who was one of the top picks in the 2010 MLS Super Draft, retired from professional soccer before he was even able to play his first professional match.

Herold was found by the medical staff of his former club, Toronto F.C., to have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCD as it is commonly referred to. HCD increases the chance of causing a player to acquire a fatal heart rhythm during physical activity which if not treated or discovered fast enough can lead to death.

Herold, who was 17 years old when he retired, had the opportunity to end his own career before he was medically forced to or even worse was killed by his greatest passion but what happens to the players who do not realize that they have a problem? How many players have to pass away before awareness of disorders such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy and sudden cardiac death is brought to the forefront of the soccer community?

Teams around the world such as Real Madrid, Manchester United and the L.A. Galaxy all use wireless heart-rate monitors during training sessions and other forms of practice in order to see in real time the reaction of the player’s heart to the exercise they’re undergoing. These machines are used to read when the heart rate is too high and too low and also to discover heart beat deformities so the training staff can assure the players safety.

These machines may keep players safe during a short period of time but in the long run when players are playing the upwards of 35 games a season and training 4-5 days a week how can teams prevent certain fatal issues from getting through the cracks?

Many people urge football associations to force teams the give bi-weekly or even weekly cardio screenings, including a electrocardiogram to assure players are safe.

These scanning’s would give players and teams the opportunity they need to take a deeper look into the healthiness of the athlete. The electrocardiogram would assure players a firm and reliable reading of the heart health and also help as a prevention for on field heart related injuries and deaths.

How many player’s must pass away before the football community stands up and make a change?