Blunt, non-penetrating chest blows that cause sudden cardiac death (commotio cordis) occur in regular events of daily living as well as during organised sports.
While sporting events are the most frequent site for this to occur, commotio cordis can happen in as simple a setting as a family pet greeting a young child.
Commotio cordis events are often fatal, with only about 16 percent of patients surviving. United States researchers say the condition is found most frequently in young males and occurs regardless of the intent or force of the blow.
Investigators from the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation in Minnesota, the New England Medical Centre and Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission in Washington, DC analysed confirmed cases reported to the US Commotio Cordis Registry up to September 2001.
"Many cases of commotio cordis resulted from innocent and often unintentional chest blows occurring at home or at school, including several under particularly unusual circumstances that could not be regarded (even remotely) as life-threatening," the researchers report….