FIFA to study cardiac arrest cases in soccer

FIFA will be studying cardiac arrest cases involving soccer

players to learn what caused Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba to collapse

during a match.

FIFA’s chief medical officer said the project will be put

forward at FIFA’s medical conference on 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 by telephone. ”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 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 also helped

complete a recent study of electrocardiogram 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 EKG 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 EKGs performed on athletes, Dvorak said.

He 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 soccer’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.”