Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) remains the leading cause of death in athletes, with recent studies showing the condition occurs more frequently than historical estimates. Currently, there are more than 350,000 SCA-related deaths each year. Stuart Long, CEO of InfoBionic, a digital health company that created the MoMe Kardia Platform, confirms that remote cardiac monitoring that is FDA cleared for diagnosis of arrhythmias is the next logical step after an alert from an athletes’ consumer wearable if confirmed by a physician.
According to a recent study by the University of Toronto, health screenings only identify young athletes who are at risk for cardiac arrest. However, more than 80 percent of cardiac cases are not discovered through systematic screening, researchers say. In fact, a significant problem with current screenings is that they exclude people whom are perceived healthy enough to safely engage in sports.3
A separate study sponsored by the National Institute for Health of 2,640 competitive soccer players featured data collected from 1974 until April 2004. From this population, there were 62 reported cardiac arrests; 24 were sudden death events; and 38 were resuscitated from cardiac arrest.4 SCA is responsible for as many as 20 percent of all deaths in the U.S., according to the study, and “50 percent of sudden cardiac deaths are first cardiac events, meaning the patient did not know they had heart disease,” Dr. Robert J. Myerburg, a professor at the University of Miami (Fla.) and a cardiologist said.5
In the U.S., on average, one young competitive athlete dies suddenly every three days. Young athletes are twice as likely to experience SCA than young non-athletes. Exacerbating the issue is that no two heart conditions are the same, as demonstrated by several young professional athletes who have suffered in-competition cardiac events.6,7
Consumer wearable devices can detect worrisome irregular heartbeat in many cases. However, the perceived lack of accuracy is leading to skepticism around false positives. For example, devices that employ electrocardiogram-like technology can be hindered when an athlete’s skin is wet, limiting or impairing the device’s readout, especially impacted by artifact or noise during intense activity. Wearers who receive an alert through the watch’s technology are instructed to consult a physician who can provide further diagnostics.8