Bronny James shocked the world last week when he went into cardiac arrest during a basketball training session and the incident highlights a very real danger that specifically young, Black and male athletes face.
LeBron’s eldest son is set to be selected in the 2024 draft class and the 18-year-old has appeared totally healthy up until this point. So why did this happen?
A 2020 study conducted by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found Black male NCAA Division I basketball players had the highest incidence rate of sudden cardiac arrest and death among athletes ages 11 to 29.
That is a whopping 21 times higher than high school male athletes of all races.
Almost half (47 percent) of the cardiac arrest cases were caused by something called cardiomyopathy, which means the heart muscle isn’t working in the typical way.
According to research conducted by Jonathan Drezner – a sports cardiologist with the University of Washington Medical Center, young, Black male, NCAA athletes who play Division I basketball have a 1 in 2,000 chance of experiencing sudden cardiac arrest every year.
Compared to a risk of 1 in 5,000 in White, male Division I basketball players.
“Adolescent male basketball players and college male basketball players, for reasons that we don’t fully understand, are by far our single highest risk group of athletes for sudden cardiac arrest,” Drezner told CNN. “In my opinion, they should all be screened with more robust and intensive cardiac screening than occurs typically.”
Unfortunately, looking for warning signs of cardiac arrest in young people can be very difficult, according to pediatric cardiologist at Riley Children’s Health in Indianapolis, Dr. Adam Kean.
“Many young people who have a condition that increases their risk for cardiac arrest don’t experience any warning signs beforehand,” Kean told TODAY. “This is the awful reality.
“The real tragedy of it is, aside from those who are already diagnosed with (a heart condition), we can’t predict when that terrible event is going to happen.”
Another high profile cardiac arrest happened to 25-year-old Damar Hamlin during a January NFL game.
Both James and Hamlin had access to immediate, life-saving care, which highlights the importance of having AEDs in schools and gyms around the country and the inherent danger if they aren’t there.