What exactly happened to NFL player Damar Hamlin?

What exactly happened to NFL player Damar Hamlin?
Damar Hamlin's heartbeat was restored on the field before being rushed to the hospital where his condition still remains critical (Damar Hamlin and his mother, [email protected]/Twitter)

CINCINNATI, OHIO: According to medical professionals, Damar Hamlin may have experienced a one-in-200 million heart injury that cut off blood flow to his brain and caused cardiac arrest. The 24-year-old Buffalo Bills safety collapsed on the field during Monday night's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

As per Buffalo Bills, Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest, and his heartbeat was restored on the field before being rushed to the hospital, where his condition still remains critical. Doctors believe that the blow to the Buffalo Bills star's chest threw his heart's pumping mechanism out of rhythm, disrupting blood flow around his body and shutting off his brain. But to make matters worse, experts speculate this may have happened during a very vulnerable moment in the heart’s electrical cycle, triggering a condition called 'commotio cordis.'

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"The first thought that occurred to me was that it was something called 'commotio cordis'," said Dr Deepak Bhatt, a top cardiologist at Mount Sinai Heart in New York City told the Daily Mail. As per the doctor, "It really refers to the classic situation of injury to the chest. This is usually in baseball when someone hits a line into the pitcher's chest and that sudden impact can trigger abnormal heart rhythms." He further elaborated that "the only way to come out of that is to deliver an electric shock and perform CPR."

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Bhatt said the probability that the player was able to stand moments after suffering the attack is due to the reason that "for a couple of seconds there was enough blood getting to the brain." He said, "When the heart stops beating we lose consciousness within a matter of seconds, those may have been the few seconds before the brain stopped getting enough blood." As per Deepak, it could take 24 to 48 hours for the heart and brain function to be restored to normal.

The doctor also said that it can take at least a week to ten days in the best-case scenario, for the patient to recover in the hospital. He further added that for the player to return to the field was a much more complex question to answer. 

Commotio Cordis is an event that takes place when a sudden blunt impact to the chest causes death without damage to the ribs, sternum, or heart and without underlying cardiac problems.  More than 224 cases have been reported to the US Commotio Cordis Registry since 1995, and the survival rate is 24 percent, the outlet reported.

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Dr Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, noted this morning that it's very important that medical personnel were able to restart Damar Hamlin's heart on the field while giving him CPR immediately after he suffered a cardiac arrest. "Just the time is of such critical importance here in terms of taking care of someone like this. The response from the medical team was fast and seconds and minutes matter in a situation like this," Gupta said. As per Buffalo Bill's statement, Hamlin is currently sedated and listed in critical condition.

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