A Michigan teen who went into cardiac arrest while wrestling had chest pains and palpitations, which he ignored for years.
Alexander Bowerson, 18, was a three-sport athlete when he collapsed during wrestling practice in December.
Now, in the wake of basketball legend LeBron James’ son, Bronny James, who suffered sudden cardiac arrest during basketball practice last week, Mr. Bowerson is now sharing the warning signs he ignored for years leading up to his event.
Mr Bowerson said he had felt occasional chest pains and palpitations since he was in high school. However, he didn’t like it.
“I just thought it was normal and everyone got it,” he told TODAY.com.
Alexander Bowerson, 18, spent six days in hospital following his cardiac arrest. He was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
LeBron James, left, poses with his son Bronny after Sierra Canyon defeated Akron St. Vincent – St. Mary in a 2019 high school basketball game in Columbus, Ohio. Bronny went into cardiac arrest during practice last week
He had passed out twice during football games, but thought it was just exhaustion.
IN December, however, he was jogging during training when he felt a stabbing pain in his chest.
“It was much worse than usual,” he said. “It was when I got this chest pain that I thought, ‘Maybe this isn’t normal’.”
He then fell to his knees after feeling too weak to stand. Mr. Bowerson tried to put his hand on his chest to point to his heart, but he couldn’t move. He then fainted.
Mr. Bowerson said he thought two angels were with him, giving him the feeling that “everything will be okay.”
“Then suddenly it felt like I was spinning and there I was on the high school floor again.”
Mr Bowerson was resuscitated with a defibrillator, a device that gives the heart an electric shock to restore normal heart rhythm.
This is just one of many recent reports of young athletes taking part in these events. In January, for example, 24-year-old Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills collapsed on the field after being tackled and went into cardiac arrest from a one in 200 million called commotio cordis.
It’s still unclear what caused Bronny James’ emergency.
Following the incident, Mr Bowerson was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a hereditary heart condition that causes the heart muscle to thicken than normal. This makes it more difficult to pump blood.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), about one in 500 people worldwide has the condition.
The agency also said it is the most common cause of sudden cardiac death in young people and competitive athletes in North America.
The condition often goes undiagnosed because many patients have no symptoms, and when they do, they are easily overlooked. Typical symptoms, which may be more pronounced during exercise, include chest pain, fainting, heart murmurs, palpitations and shortness of breath, according to the Mayo Clinic.
And hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can worsen over time. The AHA recommends that people make lifestyle changes, such as limiting physical activity.
Mr Bowerson spent six days in hospital after he collapsed and had a defibrillator implanted under his skin to monitor his heartbeat and deliver an electric shock if it loses rhythm again.
He can no longer wrestle or play contact sports.
However, he has now changed his chosen career path.
“I want to become a cardiologist now and help people who have gone through what I went through,” he said.
What IS the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest?
Cardiac arrest vs heart attack
‘Cardiac’ comes from the Greek word kardiakos, which means ‘pertaining to the heart’.
Cardiac arrest was first used as a medical term in the 1950s.
It is sometimes incorrectly used interchangeably with the phrase “heart attack.”
Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops pumping (it may quiver or flutter instead) due to an electrical malfunction.
It can be caused by heart disease, choking, electric shock or heavy blood loss.
If the heart cannot pump blood normally, the body is deprived of oxygen and this can lead to loss of consciousness and even death if not treated quickly.
In a heart attack, the heart tissue dies due to a lack of oxygenated blood.
This may be due to narrowed arteries and a clot.
The signs of a heart attack can appear immediately, but usually it’s a slow onset of symptoms lasting hours to days: chest pain, light-headedness, and shortness of breath are all warning signs. This can lead to cardiac arrest, but not always.