Medical experts speculated on the “TODAY” show Tuesday about what could have triggered Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest that caused him to collapse on the field Monday night.
“Assuming he’s a healthy athlete … the one condition a lot of experts are looking at is something called commotio cordis,” NBC News senior medical correspondent Dr. John Torres told the outlet.
Commotio cordis, or “agitation of the heart,” is a rare condition with only 200 documented cases occurring in the United States since 1995, according to Torres. Commotio Cordis is typically seen in individuals between the ages of the ages of 8 and 18 involved in sports with projectiles like hockey or lacrosse, according to the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut.
Dr. Natalie Azar argued during the segment however that a tackle to the chest, if it happened at the exact right time in the cardiac cycle, could provoke a potentially fatal abnormal heart beat known as ventricular fibrillation, according to the outlet.
Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is in critical condition after collapsing and suffering cardiac arrest during a game on Monday night. @DrJohnTorres weighs in on how this might have occurred and the steps taken that likely saved his life. https://t.co/ivKnRKqnkp
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 3, 2023
Azar’s assessment was echoed by Boston-based cardiologist Dr. Khalid Aljabri who tweeted that he believed the blow to Hamlin’s chest triggered commotio cordis — a condition that he said was “not associated with pre-existing heart damage or COVID.”
Multiple medical experts took to social media to weigh-in on Hamlin’s condition, with many of them agreeing with the Azar’s analysis.
“We don’t know exactly what happened, (and) we don’t know exactly his health condition prior to this,” Torres told TODAY. (RELATED: Former NFL Player Uche Nwaneri Dead At 38)
NBC Sports columnist Peter King also seemed to agree with the commotio cordis diagnosis. “Hits like this happen 200, 300 times every weekend in the NFL,” he told TODAY. “There was nothing extraordinary or particularly different about the hit. It’s probably just where he got hit in the chest.”
The incident was “unprecedented” in the NFL, former Buffalo Bills player Eric Wood told TODAY, and left both teams “completely shook.”