The Damar Hamlin Incident: What Did We Learn?

Damar Hamlin’s High-Profile Cardiac Arrest

You may remember a few months ago, Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He was later revived on the field and is continuing his recovery, but the incident sparked a national conversation about heart health and safety in sports.

This American Heart Month, Dr. Caitlin Chiles, Director of Primary Care at Hunter Health, sheds light on the process of diagnosing and treating cardiac issues, the approach to treatment related to sports health, and the significance of the Damar Hamlin incident on the conversation about the importance of prioritizing overall health.

What We Learned from the incident

The recent cardiac arrest suffered by Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin has brought the issue of heart health in sports to the forefront of public conversation. As Dr. Caitlin Chiles, Director of Primary Care at Hunter Health explains, diagnosing and treating cardiac issues can be a complex process that is unique to each individual and depends on various factors such as family history, personal health factors, and symptoms.

“The process is different for everyone. Sometimes we are starting a patient evaluation because of family history, sometimes because of personal health factors, and sometimes due to symptoms,” says Dr. Chiles. In her primary care practice, she often encounters cardiac issues caused by high cholesterol or diabetes.

However, Dr. Chiles cautions aspiring athletes and their families not to become overly anxious in light of the Damar Hamlin incident, as such incidents are rare and typically the result of a hard hit to the chest at just the right moment.

“Be an advocate for your kids and their teammates by making sure that an AED (automated external defibrillator) is readily available for all sporting events,” she advises. By taking preventative measures, such as regular physicals, and advocating for the availability of AEDs in sports settings, aspiring athletes and their families can minimize the risk of a cardiac emergency while also raising awareness and preparedness. The availability of AEDs can quickly revive individuals in the event of a cardiac emergency and ultimately save lives.

How Hunter Health serves Sports Health

At Hunter Health, the focus is on the health and well-being of athletes. Regular sports physicals are performed for student-athletes, and it’s recommended that even healthy individuals receive a yearly physical to stay updated on recommended screenings.

As Dr. Chiles notes, “We perform sports physicals for student-athletes. We also recommend that even healthy people get a yearly physical to make sure that they are up to date on all recommended screenings to keep them healthy and active.”

While incidents like the one involving Damar Hamlin are rare, they serve as a reminder of the importance of prioritizing heart health and staying up to date on checkups. We encourage you to make your health a priority by scheduling an appointment for a sports physical or yearly checkup. To learn more, click here and call 316-262-2415.

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