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Beacon cardiologist: Emergency response, training, are critical for commotio cordis sports injury

Many of us stopped and held our breath Monday night when we saw the Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin collapse on the field after a tackle during a televised game.

Experts speculate Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest from a condition most of us have never heard of: commotio cordis.

There are risks when you play a sport. Athletes accept those risks when they step onto a field, court or rink, whether it’s a blown-out shoulder, torn ACL or head injury. Commotio cordis is another risk that can be potentially fatal, said Beacon cardiologist Dr. Troy Weirick. “But it is such a rare occurrence that it’s like worrying about a lightning strike.”

This is a message of public awareness and knowledge and a call for everyone to recognize that this can happen to a normal heart and an athlete with no underlying heart risk factors.

“This isn’t as much about rules in sports and such,” Dr. Weirick said. “It’s about recognizing this is a part of modern sports and we need to have people trained in CPR and venues should have AEDs.”

It’s also important to know your heart health. While some risks cannot be controlled, you can make certain lifestyle changes to better protect your heart and brain. Visit here for more information about heart health and click here to schedule an appointment with a Beacon primary care provider.

CPR and AED training is available to the community at Beacon Health & Fitness. For more information about the training, schedule or to reserve a spot, email Jason Fransted, fitness specialist, at

About Heidi Prescott

Passionate about writing her whole life, Heidi Prescott joined Beacon Health System in 2015 and currently serves as Director of Communications. A former newspaper journalist who has experience in TV, radio, magazines and social media, Heidi loves storytelling, photography and spending time in nature.