Benson Chukwueke Benson Chukwueke Author
Title: Cardiac Arrest: How Footballers in Nigeria Can Prevent Another Sudden Death
Author: Benson Chukwueke
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Sudden death in football means something different… If the teams are still tied after the initial allocated number in a Penalty shooto...


Sudden death in football means something different… If the teams are still tied after the initial allocated number in a Penalty shootout, the game goes to sudden death – where each team takes a further one Penalty each,  repeated until one team  looses, resulting in the other team winning the game.

But medically, sudden death means something more devastating… where a seemingly healthy player suddenly collapse and die while  playing a game. Not as a result of injury sustained, but the heart suddenly stop pumping and in a few minutes or so the player turns purple and give up the ghost.

This is referred to as a sudden Cardiac Arrest… the heart suddenly sustains an insult, the electricity is short circuited, the heart can’t pump and the body dies.

“When the heart muscles can’t supply blood to the body, particularly the brain, the body immediately dies within four to six minutes after.”

Remember August 12, 1989… Perhaps, the most mournful night in the country… when Samuel  Okaraji collapsed and died while playing against Angola in a FIFA World Cup qualifier… An autopsy revealed that the Nigerian star had an enlarged heart and then a sudden cardiac arrest.



There’s quite a list of Nigerian footballers that suddenly died while playing a game…
  • Amir Angwe of Julius Berger collapsed and die while playing in October 29, 1995
  • John Ikoroma of Al-Wahda S.C.C  in February 2000
  • Endurance Idahor of Al-Merrekah in March 6, 2010
  • Victor Omogbehim of Iford FC in August 8, 2010
  • Emmanuel Ogoli of Ocean Boys FC in December 12, 2010
  • Chinonso Ihelwere of Bedford in August 5, 2012
  • Shetemi Ayetigbo of Belvedere in May 31, 2015
  • David Oniya of T-Team in June 13, 2015
[the Danger is Real] this is the reason I think this article is so beneficial to everyone football player.



Prevention of Sudden Death caused by Cardiac Arrest
Sudden death caused by cardiac arrest can be avoid or prevented by  a simple exercise as a regular breathe in and out… especially when you feel a sudden chest pain… lie flat with your face up, then breathe in and out for about 5 minutes or so… if you feel relief find your way to a hospital to check your heart condition

… if you’re still feeling the pain, call out for help… and get someone to quickly rush you to a hospital before it gets worst.

Death is best treated by prevention. Most cardiac arrest is associated to a chronic heart related diseases. The risk population being male of all ages who smokes and take in excessive alcohol drinks… those who have high blood pressure and diabetes (the risk factor for heart attack).

Other risk group include Syncope(Fainting or loss of consciousness) and known heart disease like palpitation (abnormal heart rhythm).


Regular Medical Examination and Monitoring
Football clubs must insist that their players go for regular medical check… a suspicion based on a player’s medical history, physical examination, laboratory test and EKG

In Players with symptoms of chest pain, aside from making diagnoses, monitoring both heart rate and rhythm is emphasized before the player is allowed to play.




Quick Action to Revive a Player that suffers a Sudden Cardiac Arrest
The definitive treatment for the few people who survived sudden cardiac arrest is by the use of electricity to shock the heart back into a regular rhythm. With present technology, Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is used to shock the heart.

First Aid treatment for a player that suddenly collapsed while playing is a quick cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)therapy before the AED Arrives.

Clubs should institute CPR education and how to use AED, so all team players can quickly attend to a player that  suddenly collapsed while playing.

NFF must insist as an operating standard that every team must have AED available in every match or training venue to prevent further loss of lives.



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