When a young athlete collapses on the field or court for no apparent reason it strikes terror in the hearts of everyone in attendance. It happened in Pierre two years ago. We asked a cardiologist with North Central Heart what causes sudden cardiac arrest and why mobile defibrillators are critical in saving people from sudden death.
We caught up with Taylor Maier two years ago shortly after he had recovered from a near death experience. He was 18 years old at the time and a senior leader and center on the Pierre Governor's Football team. Except his senior year would mean leading from the sidelines. It was early September 2008 when Taylor collapsed on the field during the pregame warm-up. Medical personnel rushed in to help and had they not used an automated external defibrillator (AED) to shock his heart, he most likely wouldn't have survived.
Taylor told us 2 years ago when we watched his team at practice, "Everybody stepped up and I've forever grateful to them for that. I wouldn't be here today without them."
North Central Heart Cardiologist Dr. Michael Hibbard tells us sudden death in athletes happens very rarely and because of that, when it does, it garners a lot of attention.
Dr. Hibbard says, "It happens 1 in a million times. It's 10 times more common in boys than girls and most frequently associated with sports like football and basketball."
Dr. Hibbard says exercise isn't the cause of sudden cardiac death. It just exposes the underlying defects.
Dr. Hibbard says, "I recommend a good physical history. Know your family history. You should know if anyone in your family has ever died suddenly for unexplained reason especially before the age of 50. If there is any family history of electrical disease in the heart or cardio myopathies, diseases of the heart muscle. The most common cause of disease is called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which can be detected sometimes by genetic testing or ultrasound."
You shouldn't have to pay the ultimate price to play your favorite sport. Doctors say know your family history and if warranted get the appropriate tests done.
Taylor is a sophomore at Augustana College in Sioux Falls now and according to his mom he is doing just great.