Sudden Death in Athletes

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The outer perfection of college and professional athletes can make it appear they are in good health. When one of those seemingly perfect and healthy athletes dies it can be a shock.

According to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, which collects death certificate information, has approximately 3,000 deaths listed in 2002 from cardiovascular disease among people age 24 and younger. Sometimes athletes take fitness to the extreme with dangerous results or even death.

Evan Henderson is a personal trainer with Bowling Green Parks & Rec. He says: "I think any athlete, if you've competed in a sport, you are running down the field or going down the basketball court chasing somebody, you are going to have those discomforts but you won't stop till the whistle blows. So therefore you are going to push your body a little harder than the Average Joe."

Other well-known athletes to die suddenly include figure skater, Sergei Grinkov; Loyola University basketball player, Hank Gathers; and Boston Celtics Reggie Lewis. They all died of heart problems.

Although experts say diagnosing which athletes may be at risk is difficult, there are some clues that may be signs of a problem.

Henderson says: "Anytime somebody is working out and has any sort of discomfort in their chest, shortness of breath or feels like fatigue or possibly fainting should always stop exercising immediately. Maybe get a drink of water, take a seat for five minutes or so.

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