Damar Hamlin Reveals Cause of His Cardiac Arrest: ‘Leading Cause of Death in Youth Athletes’


April 18, 2023

Damar Hamlin has revealed the cause of his cardiac arrest after the Buffalo Bills safety collapsed on the field in January.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Hamlin, 25, said he was diagnosed with commotio cordis and described the condition as “a direct blow at a specific point in your heartbeat that cause cardiac arrest, and five to seven seconds later, you fall out.”

According to Dr. Gordon F. Tomaselli on behalf of the American Heart Association, commotio cordis is “a rare cardiac arrest immediately following a blow to the chest” that “induces a potentially lethal heart rhythm disturbance, or arrhythmia, called ventricular fibrillation.”

Hamlin told reporters that commotio cordis is “the leading cause of death in youth athletes across all sports” and he’ll be “personally taking a step” to combat that statistic and raise awareness.

Hamlin, who hopes the awareness will lead to greater education and access to CPR, also took a moment to thank the medical professionals who treated him “with the care of their children,” he said.

“First, I want to just start with saying I’m thankful and I’m blessed,” said Hamlin, who went on to shout out the “wonderful medical staff” and his “wonderful coaches and teammates” in Buffalo.

During Tuesday’s presser, Hamlin said he is planning to return to the sport now that he’s been cleared by medical professionals. “I plan on making a comeback to the NFL,” Hamlin confirmed.

“I got a long journey to go, but I’m committed to it each day,” said Hamlin. “So I thank everybody for being on this journey with me.”

Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane told reporters on Tuesday that Hamlin is medically cleared to play again.

“He’s fully cleared, he’s here and…he’s in a great headspace to come back and make his return,” Beane said during a press conference.

In February, a month after Hamlin said the Bills and Cincinnati Bengals medical teams saved his life, the NFL star told Good Morning America he “eventually” wanted to play football again, but was leaving that decision “in God’s hands.”

In March, Hamlin joined Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Congressman Brian Higgins in Washington on Wednesday to support the Access to AEDs Act.

“The Access to AEDs Act would direct the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to award grants to elementary and secondary schools in partnership with nonprofit healthcare organizations,” according to a press release issued by the congressman’s office. “The grants will support the development and implementation of programs that promote access to defibrillators in schools.”

During the event, Hamlin recounted his experience with cardiac arrest and offered statistics around how often young athletes also experience it.

“Sudden cardiac arrest happens to more than 7,000 kids under the age of 18 every year in our country,” he continued. “The majority of the kids impacted are student athletes. Research shows that one in every 300 youth has an undetected heart condition that puts them at risk.”

According to the American Heart Association, CPR can improve the chances of survival until emergency medical assistance arrives. Over 356,000 cardiac arrests occur outside a hospital in the United States annually. It is often fatal if proper steps aren’t taken immediately.

Added Hamlin on Wednesday, “For schools that have AEDs, the survival rate for the children from sudden cardiac arrest is seven times higher. The Access to AEDs Act will help ensure that schools are just as prepared and trained to respond in a time of crisis as those on the sideline of an NFL game.”

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