Cardiologists want to see young athletes screened sooner following Bronny James’ scary cardiac arrest

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) -You rarely hear young athletes and cardiac arrest being mentioned in the same breath.

“When it happens, it’s just devastating,” said ECU Cardiovascular Diseases Professor, Dr. Lynn Morris.

When one’s heartbeat stops, the rest of the body suffers because there’s no blood pumping. Lebron James Jr. experienced that exact thing at the University of Southern California men’s basketball practice Monday.

Bronny’s sudden cardiac arrest, sort of caught cardiologists like Dr. Anil Gehi of UNC Hospitals, off guard.

“These are happening in people who appear to be in top physical condition,” Gehi said. “It’s at a high profiled event that’s watched by lots of people.”

The country seemingly stopped for Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin in January, as the 25-year-old also suffered cardiac arrest against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Morris says young athletes like Hamlin and James may have always had an underlying heart issue.

“A lot of these people have silent inherited abnormality with their heart, a thick heart muscle,” Morris said. “Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the medical name.”

Thousands under age 25 die from cardiac arrest yearly, according to data. Gehi believes parents should get their kids screened earlier.

“Any child that’s participating in athletics, at least get a history and physical to see if there’s something underlying,” Gehi said.

The bottom line is no one wants to see anyone they love suffer from cardiac arrest and not be able to act, that’s why learning CPR can be a real lifesaver.

“The more people that are trained, the more likely it is for someone to see that person having a cardiac arrest and being able to do something,” Gehi said.

The Mayo Clinic estimates the cardiac arrest rate in the general population is about one in 1,000.