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Blows to the Chest Up Death Risk for Lacrosse Players
Date:8/10/2009

Injuries are fatal far more often than in other contact sports, study finds

MONDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Although sudden deaths occur in competitive lacrosse at about the same rate as in baseball and football, deaths caused by a strong blow to the chest are more common in lacrosse, new research shows.

Lacrosse has swept up about a half-million young participants in the United States, making it the fastest-growing youth sport in the country. The hard rubber balls used in the sport can travel as fast as 100 miles an hour, and contact also occurs between a lacrosse stick and an opponent's body, called a "body check."

But hard hits to the chest, according to the American Heart Association, can cause what's called commotio cordis, a Latin term meaning "commotion of the heart."

"There are risks to young athletes [playing lacrosse], but these are, overall, no greater in lacrosse than in many other sports," said Dr. Barry Maron, lead author of a study on the subject in the Aug. 10 issue of Pediatrics. Maron is director of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation.

"There is a risk for commotio cordis events in lacrosse players which appears to be somewhat greater, and this raises the issue of an effective chest protector since commercially available barriers have not been proven to be absolutely protective," he said.

Dr. Larry Chinitz, director of clinical cardiac electrophysiology at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City, said the condition requires a direct blow to the chest.

"Basically, you get knocked in the chest and it creates an electrical signal into the heart," he explained. "It can precipitate bad arrhythmia."

Maron and his fellow researchers analyzed data from the Sudden Death in Young Athletes Registry from 1980 to 2008, which included information on 23 cases of sudden death or cardiac arrest i
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