Baylor Scott & White Medical Center — Lake Pointe


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BY Steve
| photos bY The Teal


Dr. Obiora
Anusionwu, a cardiologist on the medical staff at Baylor Scott &
White Medical Center – Lake Pointe, is just like many people in that he can
quickly think of a handful of star athletes whose sudden cardiac arrest made
national headlines. In 1990, there was Hank Gathers, a 23-year-old
All-American at Loyola Marymount who died after collapsing during a
basketball game. There was also Boston Celtics star Reggie Lewis, who died at
just 27 during an off-season workout. Most recently, Buffalo Bills safety
Damar Hamlin (25) and USC basketball player Bronny James (19), the son of NBA
superstar LeBron James, miraculously survived similar heart episodes.

It’s difficult to imagine a heart condition
impacting athletes, especially considering the training it takes and the peak
physical condition they must be in to compete. But sudden cardiac arrest is
more common than you think and is typically the result of an underlying
condition. It is the leading cause of death in young athletes, thus
increasing the importance of awareness, regular screenings, and access to
life-saving care onsite and through experienced critical care ICU and
coronary teams like those at Baylor Scott & White — Lake

“The good thing with Damar and Bronny was
that they were treated quickly and survived. But the chance for sudden
cardiac death is there,” Dr. Anusionwu said. “If we had a crystal ball, that
would be the best way to prevent sudden cardiac arrest and possible

“Since we don’t, we must look at ways to
raise awareness and reduce the chances of it happening to someone

Health Matters for Athletes

Sudden cardiac arrest is characterized by the
sudden loss of all heart activity due to an irregular heart rhythm. In these
situations, the victim stops breathing and is rendered unconscious. This
might happen suddenly for an athlete during an intense workout or game, as
the heart is under extreme stress while pumping blood. Estimates vary, but
some reports suggest that about 1 in 50,000 to 1 in 80,000 young athletes die
of sudden cardiac death each year. Male athletes are nearly four times as
likely to die than female athletes. Black athletes are about three times as
likely as white athletes to die from sudden cardiac arrest.

Dr. Anusionwu said immediate treatment, such
as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and shocks to the heart with a device
called an automated external defibrillator (AED), increases the chance of
survival. In a perfect world, these services would be provided onsite within
three minutes of the victim’s episode, either by a coach, trainer, or onsite
medical staff.

From there, the patient must be transported
to a local hospital. This is where Baylor Scott & White — Lake Pointe
can help.

Baylor Scott & White — Lake Pointe
has delivered advanced heart and vascular services and emergency care to
Rowlett and surrounding communities for decades. In 2020, Baylor Scott
& White – Lake Pointe entered into an agreement with Baylor Scott &
White The Heart Hospital – Plano to advance the delivery of cardiovascular
healthcare, enabling patients to remain close to home when possible. The
hospitals work together on complex patient cases, utilizing leading
specialists at the forefront of cardiovascular care, including cardiologists,
surgeons, electrophysiologists, and radiologists on the medical staff, along
with nurses and support teams to provide patients of any age the life-saving
care they need for a wide range of heart conditions. That includes sudden
cardiac arrest.

“Having an excellent team experienced in
managing post-cardiac arrest patients is important,” Dr. Anusionwu said.
“More importantly, however, it is essential to raise awareness of
preventative measures to reduce instances in the first

Is Key

More often than not, sudden cardiac arrest in
young athletes is the result of an undiagnosed heart condition. Most high
school, college, and professional organizations now combat that by requiring
routine pre-participation heart screenings for all athletes in competitive
sports — regardless of age and even if they don’t have a family history or
risk factors for heart disease. These tests are recommended by the American
Heart Association and can detect 99% of

heart abnormalities.

Dr. Anusionwu also said it’s essential for
coaches, players, teammates, and onsite training staff to recognize the
warning signs of a player in distress. Signs or symptoms of sudden cardiac
arrest might include chest pain, heart palpitations, excessive fatigue,
dizziness, shortness of breath beyond the norm of intense competition, and

“If an athlete feels different than what they
normally do during exercise or competition, they should be checked out,” Dr.
Anusionwu said. “Most importantly, make sure there is high-quality CPR
available onsite. It can save someone’s life.”

Baylor Scott
& White Medical Center — Lake Pointe

6800 Scenic Drive | Rowlett, Texas 75088

(972) 520-8000 | BSWHealth.com/lakepointe

If you or a young athlete you know shows any of
these warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest or is experiencing heart
symptoms of any kind, act immediately and call 911. Immediate treatment for
heart problems at a facility that provides advanced heart care like Baylor
Scott & White — Lake Pointe is necessary to preserve heart muscle

  • Advanced heart
  • Arrhythmia
  • Sudden cardiac
  • Angina (chest
  • Aneurysm
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Congenital heart
  • Congestive heart
  • Coronary artery
  • Heart
  • Heart valve
  • High blood pressure
  • High
  • Peripheral vascular
  • Pericarditis

Services Offered:

  • Advanced
    cardiovascular services
  • Non-invasive and
    invasive diagnostic testing
  • Electrophysiology
  • Interventional
  • Cardiothoracic
  • Vascular
  • Cardiac
  • Extra corporeal
    membrane oxygenation
  • Ventricular assist
  • Heart

Physicians provide clinical services as members of
the medical staff at one of Baylor Scott & White Health’s subsidiary,
community, or affiliated medical centers and do not provide clinical services
as employees or agents of Baylor Scott & White Health or those medical

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