Heart Health

27 March 2012

FIFA extends research into cardiac arrest cases

FIFA is extending research into cardiac arrest cases involving footballers to learn about the condition which caused Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba to collapse during a match.


FIFA is extending research into cardiac arrest cases involving footballers to learn about the condition which caused Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba to collapse during a match.

FIFA's chief medical officer, Jiri Dvorak, said that the project will be advanced at FIFA's medical conference scheduled for 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. "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.

Study of Gabon players needed

The 23-year-old Muamba's recovery has been followed avidly 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 analyse them," he said.

The FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC) also helped complete a recent study of electrocardiogram (ECG) 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 ECG testing, which looks for electric faults of the heart, is related to people of Caucasian ethnicity.

Cardiologists are constantly learning

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 ECGs performed on athletes, Dvorak said.

"Cardiologists are constantly learning," the Swiss professor said. "We are also developing a comprehensive e-learning course available to team physicians."

FIFA introduced mandatory testing

Dvorak 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 football'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 cardio respiratory 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.

Muamba is recovering

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 R1. 9 million 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."

(Sapa, March 2012) 

Read more:

Sudden cardiac death

Surviving cardiac arrest depends on your location


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.