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Increasing survival rate from commotio cordis.

BACKGROUND: Commotio cordis events due to precordial blows triggering ventricular fibrillation are a cause of sudden death (SD) during sports and also daily activities. Despite the absence of structural cardiac abnormalities, these events have been considered predominantly fatal with low survival rates.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether expected mortality rates for commotio cordis have changed over time, associated with greater public visibility.

METHODS: US Commotio Cordis Registry was accessed to tabulate frequency of reported SD or resuscitated cardiac arrest over 4 decades.

RESULTS: At their commotio cordis event, 216 study patients were 0.2-51 years old (mean age 15±9 years); 95% were males. Death occurred in 156 individuals (72%), while the other 60 (28%) survived. Proportion of survivors increased steadily with concomitant decrease in fatal events. For the initial years (1970-1993), 6 of 59 cases survived (10%), while during 1994-2012, 54 of 157 (34%) survived (P = .001). The most recent 6 years, survival from commotio cordis was 31 of 53 (58%), with survivor and nonsurvivor curves ultimately crossing. Higher survival rates were associated with more prompt resuscitation (40%<3 minutes vs 5%>3 minutes; P<.001) and participation in competitive sports (39%; P<.001), but with lower rates in African Americans (1 of 24; 4%) than in whites (54 of 166; 33%; P = .004). Independent predictors of mortality were black race (P = .045) and participation in noncompetitive sports (P = .002), with an on-site automated external defibrillator use protective against SD (P = .01).

CONCLUSIONS: Survival from commotio cordis has increased, likely owing to more rapid response times and access to defibrillation, as well as greater public awareness of this condition.

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