A study published earlier this month in the American Heart Association journal Circulation has found that Division I men’s basketball players are at the highest risk among all college athletes for sudden cardiac death (SCD). According to the authors of the study, there is one incident of SCD for every 3,124 men’s college basketball players in Division I per year. This is an alarming number for many reasons, especially when compared to the incidence of SCD among ALL college athletes that was measured at a much less frequent 1 in 43,770 athletes in a given year.
If you’re like us, you saw that 1 in 3,124 SCD rate for D-I men’s basketball players and immediately remembered that there are over 4,000 guys playing D-I college hoops each season. That would imply that there are between 1-2 players dying from this each year, or between 10-20 over the last ten years. At first blush, that may seem like an impossibly high rate — how many D-I players over the last ten years can you name who died because their hearts stopped? — but the researchers note in the article that during the five year study period (January 2004 through December 2008), nine players suffered SCD. Their math is unfortunately backed up by what really happened.