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Commotio cordis: sudden death due to chest wall impact in sports
  1. Cardiac Arrhythmia Service,
  2. New England Medical Center, Boston, MA 02111, USA

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Sudden death resulting from relatively minor chest wall blows (commotio cordis) has been described in the medical literature since the late 1970s.1 Since this phenomenon was first described, 70 cases have been collected (Barry J Maron, personal communication, 1998). This number is, in all likelihood, an underestimate of the true incidence of this phenomenon as many cases go unreported or are reported as accidental deaths or idiopathic sudden death. Indeed, a case of ventricular fibrillation during a soccer match, although initially reported as idiopathic, was on careful review of the events, discovered to occur after an elbow blow to the anterior left chest2(Gianfranco Buja, personal communication, 1998). Commotio cordis occurs most frequently in baseball, but sudden death owing to chest impact has also been reported in hockey, lacrosse, softball, and after bodily impacts in other sports.1-6 There are no known cases in cricket, but given that the ball is quite similar in size, weight, and hardness to a baseball, cricket players may also be at risk for commotio cordis. The lack of deaths resulting from chest wall impact in cricket matches is likely …

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