Evander Sno, 23 year old former Celtic midfielder now at Ajax collapsed on the field yesterday while playing Vitesse in a reserve match. A defibrillator had to be used thrice to revive Sno who apparently went into cardiac arrest possibly due to cardiac arrhyhthmias. He is now in hospital recuperating.
This incident underscores the importance of having a defibrillator on the premises. In Sno's case timely intervention saved his life. Such was not the case in many deaths due to sudden cardiac arrest, including Dani Jarque, Antonip Puerta, Mark Vivien Foe, Phil O'Donell, Antonio De Nigris, Endurance Idahor, and Miklos Feher.
These deaths could be attributable to a genetic disorder called Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia/ Cardiomyopathy (ARVD/ ARVC) that replaces the heart muscle of the right ventricle with fatty fibrous tissue. Research has shown that "ARVD, a rare heart disease, is one of the leading causes of sudden death in young athletes."
The commonest sign of this silent killer are ventricular arrhythmias or irregular heart rhythms which can increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest or death. Symptoms include palpitations, dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling in the ankles and feet.
In the case of Sergio Sanchez, the Sevilla defender was forced to retire after such a diagnosis was established early this year. A painful decision come to after much testing and counseling.
Similarly, Real's midfield prospect, Ruben De La Red faces protracted time off from the field after a suspected heart defect caused him to collapse against Real Union more than two years ago. His career is still up in the air and involves a fight with Real who not only do not want to pay disability but also risk anything more calamitous happening on the field should he return. Real's callousness has left De La Red between a rock and a hard place. A club that can pay millions of euros for outside talent but not take care of one of their own. It just underscores Florentino Perez's ruthlessness.
Sno will have to undergo a battery of tests to establish the cause of his collapse and possibly face a future off the field. It is hard to rehabilitate a professional footballer especially so young and as seen in De La Red's case, the decision to call it a day is made much harder by unsupportive clubs.
In the case of FIFA/ UEFA they should enforce defbrillators and CPR training on the field. Many clubs do not have such equipment or training but as seen in Sno's case, it can save lives.
Johns Hopkins is the leading research university investigating ARVD. Here is the website >>
The Cleveland Clinic has more information about ARVD including treatment options >>