Exercise-Related Cardiac Arrest Less Likely to Kill You

Heart attacks that are exercise related are less likely to kill you and less likely to have lasting neurological damage. New research proves this and helps to explain the reasons why.

Researchers from the Netherlands just presented research proving there is less of a chance of dying from sudden cardiac arrest if it is exercise-related. This research was presented at the European Society for Cardiology 2012 Congress in Munich, Germany and was led by Dr. Arend Mosterd and his team from the Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam.

Research was gathered from a database known as ARREST (short for the Amsterdam Resuscitation Study) to find out how common exercise-related cardiac arrests were in a certain geographic area from 2006 to 2009. This database covers a population of about 2.4 million people in the metro area of Amsterdam.1

The research team found 145 of a total of 2,517 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCAs) were exercise-related. Of those OHCAs that were exercise-related, 49 had been cycling, 22 playing tennis, 16 were at the gym, and 13 were swimming. Out of all the cases, most involved males (only 10 females). 65 of the 145 cases survived the event.2

The research indicated that people who experienced an exercise-related OHCA were found to have a 45% chance of survival, compared to only 15% for those people with a non-exercise-related OHCA. Research also discovered that 99.3% of the exercise-related OHCAs happened in public places, compared to 24.3% of non-exercise related ones. Consequently, the people who experienced an exercise-related OHCA were much more likely to be helped by someone. 86.2% of the exercise-related cases received CPR from a bystander, compared to only 64.4% of non-sports related cases. Additionally, 35% of the sport-related cases received shocks from an automated defibrillator, compared to 22.2% in non-sports related cases.3

Dr. Mosterd stated, “Persons suffering an exercise related OHCA are three times more likely to survive the event than persons whose arrest is not exercise related. None of the survivors of exercise related OHCA suffered serious neurologic damage, which was not the case for those surviving a non-exercise related OHCA.”4

The researchers added that exercise-related OHCAs occur in higher numbers of younger people than non-exercise related ones. Dr. Mosterd added, “The remarkably good survival of victims of exercise related out-of-hospital cardiac arrest can partially be ascribed to the fact that they are younger and more likely to suffer the arrest in a public location, leading to bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation, often with the use of an automated external defibrillator. Taking these factors into account exercise per se also contributes to a better outcome.”5

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