BUFFALO, N.Y. — Damar Hamlin, a safety for the Buffalo Bills, had a heart attack on the field during a Monday night game at the Cincinnati Bengals stadium. He is still in critical condition. Doctors are still trying to figure out why Damar Hamlin’s heart stopped beating.
Dr. Scott Feitell, who is in charge of the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and Heart Failure at Rochester Regional Health, was interviewed by News10NBC. He said that the quick response of the Bills medical staff was a big part of what saved the man’s life. As shocked fans and teammates looked on, the Bills’ medical team acted quickly. Reports say that they started chest compressions right away and were able to get Hamlin’s pulse back in the end.
Dr. Feitell says that many things could have caused the heart to stop beating. In rare cases, a hard blow to the chest can cause an arrhythmia, which is an abnormal heartbeat that can lead to cardiac arrest. People can also be more likely to get an arrhythmia because of their genes, and competing at a high level may also play a role in these cases.
It’s too early to tell right now. Dr. Feitell says that the next three days will be very important for figuring out how bad Damar Hamlin’s injuries are and how he might get better.
On Monday night, many fans saw an ambulance sitting on the field for what seemed like a long time. Here’s why:
“When CPR is started, you usually don’t want to move or move the patient until you resuscitate them and get a pulse back,” says Dr. Feitell. “Everything else can be done on the way in the ambulance, they can place an IV, they can give medicines, but the bulk of CPR is really the chest compressions, making sure that you’re getting enough blood flow with those compressions, and I think they did their due diligence and did it right.”
Dr. Feitell says that the only good thing is that Hamlin’s heart stopped when trained medical staff and paramedics were just feet away.
“Early CPR by bystanders can increase the chance of survival by a factor of ten,” he says. “For every minute of inactivity, there is a 10–15% chance of brain damage or injury from lack of oxygen to the brain, so early CPR is the key to survival in these situations.”
As for what happens next, “generally speaking, if someone came in with an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, whether it was televised or we knew nothing, there’s a certain bundle-of-care we provide for the post-cardiac arrest patient, and it’s pretty standard throughout the country,” says Dr. Feitell. “When the heart can’t pump blood, obviously we’re worried about the brain, but there are other organs that need blood flow as well, so I’
Dr. Feitell has some advice for Hamlin’s family, friends, teammates, and fans while they wait for news about his health.
“I will tell any Bills fan who cares about people to go learn CPR so that if someone’s heart stops, you know what to do and how to react, and you can actually save someone’s life.”