Graham Cummins: I suffered a scare at training with an irregular heartbeat

'My incident was nothing compared to what has happened Eriksen and but if I were him, I wouldn’t be stepping foot on a pitch again.'
Graham Cummins: I suffered a scare at training with an irregular heartbeat

Denmark's Christian Eriksen receives medical treatment after collapsing. Picture: AP Photo/Martin Meissner

CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN’S cardiac arrest during Denmark’s Euro 2020 game against Finland has shocked the world.

It raised a lot of questions. Seeing what happened to a fit athlete, in just a blink of an eye, will make people question their mortality. It could make some athletes worry about continuing in sport.

Netherlands defender Daley Blind admitted that he thought twice about taking to the field for his country’s opening Euro 2020 game against Ukraine after witnessing what had happened to his former teammate.

Blind was diagnosed with a heart muscle inflammation in 2019. He was fitted with a peacemaker, but it failed in a friendly match last August, in what was described as a one-off.

Blind had every right to question whether he should carry on playing after seeing what happened to Eriksen considering his condition but there will be other players, who haven’t any underlying conditions, that will fear that they might suffer a similar cardiac arrest.

Eriksen was not the first player this has happened to and unfortunately, he probably won’t be the last.

Former Bolton player Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest during a game against Tottenham Hotspur in 2012 and he came close to death after his heart had stopped beating for 78 minutes.

Real Madrid legend Iker Casillas suffered a heart attack in training with Porto but like Muamba, lived to tell his tale.

However, there have been fatal incidents. Marc-Vivien Foe died whilst playing for Cameroon in 2003 at the age of 28, and former Newcastle player Cheick Tiote passed after collapsing in training aged 30, in 2017.

WARNING

I, myself, suffered a scare during my playing days with St Johnstone.

We would always wear a heart monitor during training, but the results, what our heart rate was during the session, would only be collected after. I made it known that my heart was beating irregular but was allowed to continue.

I didn’t drop out of training, because I was thinking if I did and nothing was wrong, how bad would that make me look?

When I went into training the next day, I was told me I wouldn’t be allowed to train again until I saw a cardiac specialist because the results from my heart monitor had shown that my heart spent 10 minutes beating at 150 percent of its highest level.

I saw the specialist, who ran several tests, and fortunately, nothing appeared from the results, but it did give me a fright.

It did make me doubt whether continuing to play on was safe even though I had been given the all-clear. My incident was nothing compared to what has happened to Eriksen and although he might make a full recovery, if I were him, I wouldn’t be stepping foot on a pitch again.

Players will begin to wonder is enough being done to keep them safe and that doesn’t apply to just professional footballers.

That relates to anyone involved in any sort of sport organisation. Thankfully for Eriksen, there were trained medics and the equipment at the game to safe him but what would happen in an amateur game?

Would there be a defibrillator at the side of the pitch to save that person’s life? Would there be medics at the games?

Do the players or coaches know first aid? We saw how important the actions – CPR - taken by Eriksen’s teammate Simon Kjaer were to save the Inter Milan’s player’s life.

Amateur clubs aren’t going to have the safety equipment at games. There aren’t going to be medics on the sideline in case something were to go wrong on the pitch.

So, what can be done? Defibrillators need to become mandatory for every club in Ireland. 

It’s not unrealistic for every player to have some knowledge of first aid, but it would be difficult to do. It’s tough enough getting 22 players to turn up for a match never mind a course.

However, the management staff of the team should be qualified in first aid. Managers must be Garda certified to be on the coaching staff in a team and it should be the same when it comes to first aid qualifications.

These are just little steps that can be done to ensure the safety of everyone involved in sport, because if what has happened to Eriksen has thought us, is that, that cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at anytime no matter how fit a person seems.

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