Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

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.

Original publication




Journal article


Am J Cardiol

Publication Date





808 - 811


Adolescent, Athletic Injuries, Cohort Studies, Commotio Cordis, Cricket Sport, Death, Sudden, Cardiac, Female, Football, Humans, Incidence, Male, Registries, Retrospective Studies, Thoracic Injuries, United Kingdom, Wounds, Nonpenetrating, Young Adult