Bronny James, the oldest son of basketball legend LeBron James, recently experienced a terrifying moment when he suffered a cardiac arrest during a routine workout at the University of Southern California. The 18-year-old remains hospitalized in stable condition.
Bronny’s health incident draws attention to the unfortunate intersection of cardiac arrests, basketball players and race, amid concerns about his prognosis and future playing the sport he loves.
Statistics suggest Bronny is lucky to be alive.
There are alarming racial disparities in sudden cardiac arrest cases, not unlike what happened to Bronny. According to a study conducted by researchers at the Smidt Heart Institute, African Americans experience sudden cardiac arrest at twice the rate compared to white people.
The study compares the medical histories of patients from different racial backgrounds who suffered sudden cardiac arrest. It found that approximately 350,000 African Americans die each year from sudden cardiac arrest. Researchers are unsure of the exact reasons behind the disparities and speculated that it could be due to higher rates of illnesses like hypertension and diabetes within the Black community.
Among the findings, one striking observation was that Black people are, on average, six years younger than white people when facing sudden cardiac arrest. Equally as revealing is that sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death among athletes.
The findings also indicate that sudden cardiac death rates may be as high as 1 in 5,000 among Division I basketball players. Then, 1 in 1,250 over a typical four-year college career. This risk is even greater for certain groups, including African Americans, with statistics determining that NCAA basketball players are “more prone” to sudden cardiac death.
Notably, Bronny accepted an athletic scholarship to the University of Southern California (USC) and was set to begin his freshman season playing there this fall. He suffered his cardiac arrest while practicing at USC on Monday.
The above research highlights the need to identify potential risk factors specific to each racial group to provide target preventive measures.
In addition, the NCAA has been collecting data on sudden cardiac arrest and death among athletes since 2014. But more focused efforts are essential to address the unique health needs of Black athletes. Things such as improving screening strategies and targeted preventive measures can make a significant impact and could ultimately save lives.
NewsOne sends our heartfelt wishes for Bronny James’ speedy recovery.
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