Friday, June 12, 2009

WATCH: ICD saves life of Belgium soccer player.

I don’t know how much explaining is necessary here. This amazing video says it all.

In the clip, Anthony Van Loo, a 20-year old Belgium soccer player collapses during a match and is resuscitated by his Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD). The device delivers a shock to restore his heart rhythm.

Watch the annotated version here.

Most of the press has been reporting the incident as a heart attack. This is not accurate. Instead, Van Loo must have suffered what is called an “arrhythmia”. Arrhythmias are disturbances in the normal heart rate and electrical rhythm, and are usually life-threatening. Two of the most dangerous types of arrhythmia are called Ventricular Tachycardia (VT) and Ventricular Fibrillation (VF). Such abnormally fast heart rhythms prevent the heart from pumping blood to the brain, resulting in loss of consciousness. If left untreated, these dangerous rhythms will deteriorate into a cardiac arrest. Read about the difference between cardiac arrest and heart attack.

According to this Time story (Saving Athletes from Cardiac Arrest, by Carolyn Sayre), “Sudden Cardiac Arrest [...] affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S. and is the leading cause of death in competitive athletes.

Van Loo is known to suffer from an unspecified heart condition that makes him susceptible to life-threatening arrhythmias. He’s been allowed to return to playing soccer after the implantation of an ICD.

I'm sure glad I have an ICD. Truly amazing stuff!

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