Fabrice Muamba Heart Attack - Hypertrophic obstructive Cardiomyopathy Explained
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?
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.
- Chest Pains
- Heart Failure
- High blood pressure
- Light Headeness
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue even when lying down.
Testing for Heart Muscle Thickness include:
- 24 hour heart monitor
- Chest Xray
- Echocardiography with Doppler (ultrasound)
- 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.
Most patients will have to stay in the hospital until the condition is under control.
Calcium channel blockers
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.
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.