DALLAS, April 22, 2023 — After months of medical evaluations followed by the announcement of his return to professional football, NFL Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin recently sat down for an on-camera interview with the American Heart Association’s Chief Executive Officer Nancy Brown. “It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions, and I’m trying to just focus on the right foot in front of the left… trying not to control too much… Physically, I’m getting stronger,” he said, as he prepares to return to the playing field.

Damar Hamlin’s sudden collapse during a live Monday Night Football game on January 2nd made worldwide headlines. Earlier this week, he revealed that medical experts have concluded he collapsed due to an episode of commotio cordis, a rare and complex type of cardiac arrest that is the result of blunt force trauma to the chest at exactly the wrong time in the heartbeat. With prompt CPR and defibrillation, the survival and recovery rates after a commotio cordis episode are greater than 50% and the risk of a second episode is miniscule, so it should not prevent him from renewing his professional athletic career.

Hamlin’s interview as a guest on “At the Heart of It” with Nancy Brown is his first since he shared his diagnosis and announcing his return to play in the NFL and only his second one-on-one interview since the events of January 2nd. “At the Heart of It” with Nancy Brown is part of the American Heart Association’s lineup of original programming available online from AHA Studios. The full episode will premier Wednesday, May 3rd on the American Heart Association’s YouTube channel.

BACKGROUND: While playing on Monday Night Football on January 2, Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest after a hit, according to a statement by the Buffalo Bills at that time. 

Cardiac arrest may have several causes. It was announced on April 18th that Damar Hamlin’s collapse was due to an episode of commotio cordis (kə-ˈmō-shē-ō-ˈkȯrd-əs) - Latin for “agitation of the heart.” Commotio cordis is a type of cardiac arrest that is an extremely rare consequence of blunt force trauma to the heart that happens at exactly the wrong time in the heart rhythm, causing the heart to stop beating effectively. Collapse occurs within a few seconds. The impact occurs over the left chest wall, and it is generally sustained with a hard spherical object, such as a baseball, hockey puck, lacrosse ball or softball. There are no risk factors for commotio cordis. It is an extremely rare event that may affect anyone playing a physical contact sport. Quick recognition of the cardiac emergency and immediately beginning the 3 most important steps in the chain of survival are critical to survival: 1) call 911, 2) begin CPR and 3) defibrillate with an automated external defibrillator or AED. These are the only ways to save someone’s life after commotio cordis or sudden cardiac arrest.

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The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1. 


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