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What Is Commotio Cordis? Doctor Says 2 Factors May Have Caused Damar Hamlin’s Collapse



The hit looked harmless, at least for professional football. But it triggered a terrifying result.

Moments after an otherwise seemingly forgettable tackle during a football game Monday night between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals, Damar Hamlin collapsed while in cardiac arrest.

Anguished players for both teams looked on and prayed, as a national audience watched and waited. Hamlin collapsed on the Paycor Stadium field following the hard collision and was administered CPR by medical personnel for roughly 10 minutes before being taken away in an ambulance.

The 24-year-old Bills safety remains in critical condition at the hospital. But it was the actions of the medical staff at the stadium, beginning CPR within minutes of Hamlin’s collapse and restarting his heartbeat, that may have helped keep him alive.

“Those are critical factors, and that time is measured in really seconds to minutes” said Dr. Julio Panza, the chief of cardiology at Westchester Medical Center. He praised the crucial recognition and response from the staff.


In answering what could cause Hamlin’s on-field cardiac arrest, Dr. Panza focused on two factors: pre-existing conditions and trauma.

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin remains in critical condition after suffering cardiac arrest during Monday night’s game. But what exactly is cardiac arrest? Experts weigh in.

Blunt trauma to the heart creates a condition called commotio cordis, which is described as “the sudden arrhythmic death caused by a low/mild chest wall impact,” according to the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut, which is dedicated to preventing sudden death in sports. The institute said that the condition mostly occurs with younger athletes competing in sports with projectiles and getting struck sharply in the chest with things like baseballs, lacrosse balls and hockey pucks.

It would not be the first time an athlete has suffered the condition. NHL star Chris Pronger suffered it, taking a puck to the heart in a 1998 game. On Tuesday, he tweeted his hope that Damar will survive this, just as he did.

What caused Hamlin’s cardiac arrest, Dr. Panza said one thing is very clear when it comes to his chances of survival or recovery.

“The most important thing is the amount of time that he spent without blood flowing to the brain,” he said.


As doctors test and treat Hamlin, his family said in a statement that “we want to express our sincere gratitude for the love and support shown to Damar during this challenging time….your generosity and compassion mean the world to us.”

Dorrian Glenn, Hamlin’s uncle, provided an update on the Buffalo Bills safety Tuesday evening, saying that Hamlin remains sedated in the ICU at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. He added that Hamlin is on a ventilator but has improved from 100% oxygen needed to 50% oxygen needed.

“They’re trying to get him to breathe on his own. So we’re just kind of taking it day-by-day,” Glenn told NFL Network. “I’m really, really thankful for the medical staff that’s been working with him. They’ve been truly awesome in helping him with his recovery.”

Glenn revealed that Hamlin had to be resuscitated twice — once on the field and once at the hospital.

Source: NBC New York


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