FIFA extends research into cardiac arrest cases

FIFA is extending research into cardiac arrest cases involving

footballers to learn about the condition which caused Bolton

midfielder Fabrice Muamba to collapse during a match.

FIFA’s chief medical officer, Jiri Dvorak, said Monday that the

project will be advanced at FIFA’s medical conference scheduled for

May 23-24 in Budapest, Hungary.

”We have invited all national-team doctors to establish a

worldwide database for cases of sudden cardiac arrest,” Dvorak

told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. ”This will

lead to analysis of the risk factors.”

Muamba’s condition is serious but stable in a London hospital,

nine days after he collapsed during the first half of an FA Cup

match at Tottenham’s White Hart Lane stadium.

The 23-year-old Muamba’s recovery has been followed avidly

across the world, but Dvorak hopes FIFA’s new project will provide

medical researchers with important information about lower-profile

cases.

”Sometimes we only get (details of) individual cases through

the media. When we get the files we can analyze them,” he

said.

The FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Center (F-MARC) also

helped complete a recent study of electrocardiogram (ECG) testing

in African players. Muamba was born in Zaire.

Dvorak said the study of 230 healthy players in Gabon was needed

because most data from ECG testing, which looks for electric faults

of the heart, is related to people of Caucasian ethnicity.

The variation in data from players of different ethnic

backgrounds was discussed at the inaugural FIFA medical conference

held October 2009 in Zurich.

FIFA also contributed to a summit of cardiologists in Seattle

last month, which was hosted by the American Medical Society for

Sports Medicine.

The two-day session focused on how to better interpret readings

of ECGs performed on athletes, Dvorak said.

”Cardiologists are constantly learning,” the Swiss professor

said. ”We are also developing a comprehensive e-learning course

available to team physicians.”

Dvorak pointed to the 2003 death of Marc-Vivien Foe, who

collapsed while playing for Cameroon against Colombia in a

Confederations Cup match in France as a turning point in football’s

awareness of potential heart problems.

”It was the imperative wake-up call that we have to deal with

this situation and do everything to mitigate the risk factor,” he

said.

FIFA began insisting on cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory

tests for all World Cup players before the 2006 tournament in

Germany.

Mandatory testing was introduced ahead of the 2007 Women’s World

Cup, and now applies to all FIFA age-group tournaments for men and

women.

Dvorak said a defibrillator, which was used on Muamba as he lay

on the field, is required at all FIFA-sanctioned matches and should

be available at all World Cup qualifying matches.

Each of FIFA’s 208 national members receives funding for medical

projects as part of its $250,000 annual FIFA grant, Dvorak

said.

FIFA’s medical adviser said he had spoken with Bolton officials

throughout Muamba’s ordeal.

”From the very first moment, we are in contact,” Dvorak said.

”We wish him all the best, and it’s fantastic that he is

recovering.”