A Lethal Blow to the Chest as an Underdiagnosed Cause of Sudden Death in United Kingdom Sports (Football, Cricket, Rugby).
Cooper S., Woodford NW., Maron BJ., Harris KM., Sheppard MN.
Nonpenetrating blunt force trauma to the front of the chest can lead to commotio cordis, a cardiac rhythm disturbance, which can result in cardiac arrest and death. The condition is particularly noted during sport. No series of such cases has been published in the UK. This study is a retrospective analysis of a database of 6000 cases of sudden cardiac death examining commotio cordis in the setting of collapse and death shortly following a blow to the precordium where no structural heart disease was identified at autopsy. Of the 17 cases, 16 were male, and 11 were 18 years old or younger. Eleven occurred whilst playing sport while 6 involved physical interaction including assault. The most common circumstance of death involved a youth being struck in the chest by a ball during sporting activity. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that cases of commotio cordis in the UK follow a similar circumstantial and age profile to those reported in the United States, and indicates that ball sports such as football, cricket, and rugby expose young participants to a similar risk. There is currently no nation-wide registry of deaths occurring during sporting activity in the UK, and although the true incidence of this condition is not currently known, it is most probably under-recognised and underdiagnosed.