Fabrice Muamba Heart Attack - Hypertrophic obstructive Cardiomyopathy Explained

Fabrice Muamba Bolton Footballer
Fabrice Muamba Bolton Footballer | Source

British Football fans were in shock as Fabrice Muamba, 23, collapsed on the pitch during an FA cup quarter final game against Tottenham Hotspur. The Bolton Wanderers midfielder was left seriously ill with a heart attack after collapsing just before half time. Fabrice was rushed to Intensive Care in the heart attack centre, which is situated in the London Chest Hospital.

The first part of the game was without incident, with a score of 1-1, Fabrice seemed to be fine, until his shocking collapse in front of thousands of football fans in the 42nd minute of play. The stadium sat in shocked silence as medics frantically tried to get his heart to start. For over six minutes the players watched, as the medics worked on the young footballer.

As Fabrice was carried off the pitch, the fans stood up and broke into applause, some chanting his name, while others were in tears.

Fabrice was born in the democratic Republic of Congo, where he witnessed the horrors of civil war. He and his family arrived in England in 1999, and started his football career with Arsenals youth team in 2002. Up until this incident he seemed to be a fit and healthy footballer. So what happened?

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Hypertrophic obstructive Cardiomyopathy

Fabrice is suffering from a condition known as Hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy, or in short, hokum. So what is hokum? It is a disorder that makes the heart of young people, usually athletes, act like that of a much older person, sometimes as old as 80 and over.

Evidently over 80 footballers have died since the 19th century, all suffering from this disease.

So why does Hocum affect Footballers and Athletes?

Its caused by the strenuous regime of training that footballers and other athletes put themselves through. To be this fit you have to train and keep training, and like any other muscle in the body, the heart will adapt and change shape too.

When the heart changes shape due to exercise, it helps to pump the blood more efficiently around the body. The trouble begins when the Athlete in question, is been born with a slight genetic abnormality. This will result in the muscle wall of the heart getting too thick. Much thicker than it should be in a healthy individual. Its like any muscle, if you pump it up enough it will enlarge, but if there is a fault, it will cause the heart to grow into a different shape, or become too thick. Hypertrophic obstructive Cardiomyopathy, can sometimes be asymmetrical, this means that one part of the heart becomes thicker than it should be.

The trouble is the more sports training you do, the worse the anomaly gets.

In the case of the heart muscle, the more training you do, the thicker the outer wall gets until it actually stops the natural flow of blood that is continuously travelling around the heart. The condition is usually hereditory, passing down through generations of the family.

Your heart is a very strong muscle, but if it can’t pump the blood around your body efficiently then it will start to cause real problems. The body will be young and fit, but at the same time, the heart is trying desperately to keep up and aging at a speed that is faster than the rest of the body. Hence the 80 year old heart.

Symptoms

  1. Chest Pains
  2. Dizziness
  3. Fainting
  4. Heart Failure
  5. High blood pressure
  6. Light Headeness
  7. Shortness of breath
  8. Palpitations
  9. Fatigue even when lying down.

Testing for Heart Muscle Thickness include:

  1. 24 hour heart monitor
  2. Chest Xray
  3. Echocardiography with Doppler (ultrasound)
  4. And M.R.I. Of the heart

Can you imagine running up and down a football pitch over and over again, while your heart is trying desperately to keep up? What will happen is that the heart will suddenly give out. It can’t take the pace so it dramatically stops.

This is called Sudden Cardiac Death.

Even if this happens within a hospital it can still be very dangerous. Even with CPR, the heart will still need sufficient manipulation to pump again in a co-ordinated way.

Treatment


Most patients will have to stay in the hospital until the condition is under control.

Beta Blockers

Calcium channel blockers

Gentle exercise

Anti-arrhythmic medication If the cause is due to atrial fibrillation.

Blood thinners To avoid blood clots.

Surgical myectomy to remove the thickened portion of the muscle.

Screening

So should all athletes undergo a screening test before being allowed to train? Yes I think so. At the moment it is underway in Italy, but hopefully it will now be mandatory in Britain especially after what has happened.

.

At the moment Fabrice Muamba the young Bolton Wanderers Football Player, is sitting up and able to watch TV. It's not going to be an easy recovery, but it seems he is on the mend, thank goodness.

I believe the outpouring of grief about Muamba was not just the shock of a young player being struck down, but a sudden realisation that what happened to him could in fact happen to anybody. And not just people in the public eye. Hopefully it has brought to light another hidden disease that many of us never knew existed. I wish Fabrice good luck and health in the future.

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Comments 47 comments

bizwin profile image

bizwin 4 years ago from England, UK

Thanks for sharing this info Nell Rose. It was a total relief to learn that his condition is stable.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Thanks bizwin, I was just so shocked to see what happened to him, I had never heard of this illness before so I had to write about it, thanks for reading, nell


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

A very good article, Nell! Is this your specialty?


The Writers Dog 4 years ago

Thanks for this Hub, Nell. I am a West Bromwich Ablion fan (yes, there are some outside Birmingham!) but was still shocked to hear about Muamba. The same thing has happened to Australian Rules Footballers. Once case on our news recently was about a 13 year old boy. He survived, and has raised money to provide portable defib units to junior clubs.


jhunpaler profile image

jhunpaler 4 years ago from Philippines

Informative hub :)thanks for the detailed article of the disease. :)


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, Will, lol! no, I was just so shocked to hear about this, that my curiosity got the better of me, I just couldn't figure out how or why it would happen, thanks as always, and good to see you, nell


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

I am not a big fans of football. But I really care with what happened to Fabrice Muamba. I learn many things from this hub. So, we can do good treatment if something happened like this. I hope the best for him. Thanks, Nell for writing this news and share with us. Take care and have a nice day!

Prasetio


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 4 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

Hi, Nell

I was actually watching this game on ESPN UK when it happened. It is a memory that will live with me of the beautiful game that I love for a very long time and a horrendous thing to happen on the football pitch. I'm not a supporter of either Spurs or Bolton but it was good to see the unity of the crowd in their support of this young man and their wider concern for his well-being. I hope and pray that he pulls through.

Great information on the condition. It was something I was totally unaware of, even though I remember a player (Phil O'Donnell of Motherwell) actually died on the pitch during a Scottish Premier League match back in December 2007. I don't know if the cause was similar.

Very informative Hub and I hope the tests and health care provided to sports professionals is reviewed and intensified as a result of this tragic incident,

Gordon


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, Writers, I used to be a Tottenham fan, in fact years ago I went to White Hart Lane to watch them a few times! can you imagine that? and of course I always watch the World Cup football, It just really caught my attention with this, and after hearing about others having the same thing I just really wondered what it was, that was great that a 13 year old survived that God for that, and to raise money to provide a defib unit, thank goodness for technology and the great surgeons too, thanks as always, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, jhunpaler, thanks for reading, learning about this really helps to understand this illness, its something that I would never have thought of, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, pras, yes the treatment these days is marvelous, thank goodness there were so many people there to help him, thanks as always, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, Gordon, yes it was amazing how the crowd reacted, and thank goodness he was spotted quickly, between the paramedics and the hospital he is getting really good treatment, Phil O'Donnell may very well have had this disease too, caused by exercise and a genetic anomaly, as I mentioned above, 80 players have died while playing football over the years, its definitely something that needs to be screened before playing, thanks for reading, nell


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 4 years ago from US

Things like this do happen too often and somehow they are just missed by doctors so there is nothing to be done. Really glad he is OK!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, Polly, yes its one of those hidden things that suddenly occurs, and in this case it seems to hit sportsmen and women, hopefully he will get better soon, thanks again, nell


rahilamayo profile image

rahilamayo 4 years ago from punjab, pakistan

May God recover him soon


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

As a nurse I am always interested in medical conditions and you covered this disease very well. I pray Fabrice will continue to recover, as this is a terrible condition for anyone young that has worked so hard to excel in a sport. It would be nice if players could know before they get into a rough sport that they have a pre-dispostion to acquire this disease.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Thanks rahilamayo, I quite agree, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, Pamela, I think that's why I was so interested in this, so many athletes just train and they never seem to have the right tests to make sure they are okay, at least now I think they may just do it, this interested me because I have a friend who is a footballer, he played for QPR, so I suppose it was at the back of my mind that any of them can be in danger, Hypertrophic obstructive Cardiomyopathy is a hidden thing caused by all that exercise, all footballers need to be checked, thanks as always, nell


teamrn profile image

teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago

Nell, I commend you for tacking a very complex subject and breaking it down to a well-understood article. I'm not a football fan, either, but it's important for us all to understand that this does occur. And how better to understand? Articles like yours!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, teamrn, thanks so much! it was one of those news reports that really made me wonder what on earth had happened, so I thought I would investigate it, glad you liked it and thanks!


teamrn profile image

teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago

Nell, I.m a nurse and half of my article writing was on similar subject material, on stuff that i a had studied and knew. But writing about it, to make it seem flawless and effortless required MUCH research and work. MEGA KUDOS!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, teamrn, thanks so much, if something interests me I have to research it, my brother has actually got to wear a heart monitor in the next few weeks because he gets palpitations badly so I wanted to see if there was a similarity, hopefully not, but it was a good way to check, thanks again, nell


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

I'm glad that there's a way to detect this condition early. Let's hope that footballer makes it through. Voting this Up and Interesting.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, alocsin, thanks for reading, I believe that Fabrice Muamba is on the road to recovery, thank goodness! thanks for the vote, nell


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

It is awful when you hear of something like that happening to one so young.

He does seem to be making a slow recovery now though. He was very fortunate that it happened where it did. The best medical help was available immediately.

Please God he makes a complete recovery.


JKenny profile image

JKenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

Here, here christopher. I remember seeing Fabrice play a few times when he was at Birmingham, and he was always very popular with the fans.

Thank God, he seems to be making a slow but steady recovery. He can at least speak and recognise his family. I think he owes his life to the Bolton and Tottenham medical staff, they did a truly magnificent job. Hopefully he'll make a complete recovery


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, christopher, it looks like he is getting better, its amazing how when he woke up he asked about the football as well as his son, what a great sign! thanks for reading, cheers nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, JKenny, I totally agree, thank goodness he was on the pitch and not on the way home or on his own! those medical staff were absolutely amazing, its great to know he is on the mend, thanks nell


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 4 years ago from the Ether

So very sad, but very well put-together hub, Nell. The medical facts were spot on. Sorry for the loss. Voted up and interesting.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, Kitty, happily he is okay now! he did have loads of cpr on the pitch, lots more when he got to the hospital but thank goodness he is going to be okay, but if he had been anywhere else the results wouldn't have been so good, thanks as always, nell


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

A great hub Nell;so well covered and I wish him a complete recovery too.

Thanks for sharing this one Nell and I vote up/interesting/useful.

Take care;

Eddy.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, Eddy, yes it seems he's on the mend, thank goodness! and thanks so much for the vote, nell


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago from Cambridgeshire, England

It was shocking to learn that so many athletes suffer from this condition.

There should be some kind of screening as you mentioned.

Good work Nell, very informative.

Voted up interesting and SHARING


Sinea Pies profile image

Sinea Pies 4 years ago from Northeastern United States

My nephew also has this condition. He is a basketball player and it is heartbreaking to watch him yearning to be out on the court and he can no longer participate. Thankfully, though, he is alive! He could have been a statistic.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Thanks molometer, my brother has to have a monitor soon, hopefully he will be fine, but he was in hospital we multiple palpitations a couple of weeks ago, so it was a bit close, thanks for the vote and sharing!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, Sinea, sadly it seems to affect athletes more because of all the training and games, thank goodness your nephew is okay, but it is sad that can no longer play basketball, thanks so much for reading, nell


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thanks for the informative hub, Nell. I heard about this incident, but not much information was given in the news broadcast. I'm glad to hear that Fabrice Muamba is recovering. What a scary event for his family!


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 4 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom

Hi Nell, great article and very informative. I was watching the football match on television when it happened. I knew it was serious when the cameras moved away from the pitch. I am so glad that he seems to be improving.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, Alicia, it was a horrible thing to watch and what a great team of paramedics on the pitch, if it wasn't for them he wouldn't be here now, I am so glad he's getting better, thanks for reading, cheers nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, jacqui, yes thank goodness he seems to be on the mend, it was some miracle though, especially as he is now talking normally, they were afraid that he might be brain damaged, close call, thanks nell


phil 4 years ago

can i ask what your source is for him actually having this condition as opposed to other conditions out there like Brugada for eg


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, phil, yes I take notes when watching the news, and I saw it extensively explained on Sky and BBC news, then I turned to the internet to find out more, okay?


kilo2993 profile image

kilo2993 3 years ago

Nell - Well written and concise information on a very misunderstood disease. I perform screening 2D echocardiograms for the DOD on all cadets selected to attend one of the Military Academies. We find many forms of the disease that dis-qualifies a cadet, but saves his life.

Sadly, HOCM is often diagnosed following a sudden death incident. Fortunately, HOCM can be detected early with a simple stethoscope when the physician takes the time to truly listen to the patients heart sounds. HOCM increases pressures throughout the heart, and this gradient can be heard, along with other audible "hints" that reveal its presence.

Mortality is extremely high even when proper CPR and a portable defibrillator are available. Patients die due to electrical dysfunction of the cardiac muscle. If we can find HOCM early on, a Implantable Electronic Defibrillator (IED) can be implanted in the patient, which will automatically detect and shock correct the electrical dysfunction.

Screening doesn't need to be cost prohibitive...a simple physical exam is usually all it takes.

Great article!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi kilo, thanks so much for the verification. I did try to stick to the facts behind it, but not being a medical person I am glad you have written to let me know that this was fine, yes its such a shame that something so simple can be a killer. If only they would check for everything like this in the military sport and other activities. I don't know if they do the check over here in England as you do on cadets in the Military academies, but I do hope so, thanks so much for reading, nell


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

Nell, glad I caught this article. It was interesting to read and so glad there is a happy ending in sight. It is so important atheletes get a complete physical prior to joining any team.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi teaches, thanks for reading. I believe Fabrice is doing really well now. It was pure luck that it happened on the pitch, there were doctors there ready to help him. Its a hidden disease that can happen to anybody who hasn't had regular checkups or have it in their family history, glad you liked it, and thanks, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi teaches, thanks for reading. I believe Fabrice is doing really well now. It was pure luck that it happened on the pitch, there were doctors there ready to help him. It's a hidden disease that can happen to anybody who hasn't had regular checkups or have it in their family history, glad you liked it, and thanks, nell

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