Did You Know…
Golf courses are the fifth most common place for people to suffer from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). According to the American Heart Association, a golfer is one of over 380,000 people in the United States each year to suffer from out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest… and less than seven percent survive.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest vs Heart Attack — They’re Different
Sudden cardiac arrest is usually the first symptom of cardiovascular disease — especially in women. Women are 66% less likely than men to be diagnosed with heart disease before SCA strikes.
Sudden cardiac arrest accounts for 50% of cardiac deaths. Cardiac deaths are considered “sudden” if the death or cardiac arrest occurred within one hour of the onset of symptoms.
How to Be Prepared
The worst case scenario is having a cardiac event on a distant hole. On your next golf outing, it’s a good idea to do the following when you schedule your tee-off time:
- Find out if the golf course is equipped with an automated external defibrillator (AED), where it’s located, who is trained to use it, and if that person is on the premises at all times. (It’s best if the marshal also keeps one in the cart and can operate it.) A defibrillator can deliver an electric shock that can restore a normal rhythm to a heart that’s stopped beating, but the sooner lifesaving treatment can begin, the chances of survival are greater. Permanent brain damage can occur after only four minutes without oxygen, and death can occur within four to six minutes after that. How fast do you think you can get help on the golf course?
- Get the clubhouse phone number and find out if they have an emergency phone number (that is, a number where you won’t be put on hold in an emergency). Save these contact numbers in your phone. Each player in your group should do this.
- Stay hydrated and avoid alcohol –– especially if the weather is hot. Alcohol is a diuretic and will further deplete your body of essential fluid and electrolytes. Dehydration can affect your electrical system (heart rhythm) and can be a life-threatening condition.
- Be on alert if you have a history of coronary heart disease (CHD) and/or you’re a man over age 45 or a woman over age 55. Men are two to three times more likely to have SCA than women.
- Be a regular exerciser — not a weekend golf warrior. A sedentary lifestyle puts you at risk for SCA.
- Pick a partner that knows CPR!
Fit Tip: Follow a low risk lifestyle and lower your risk for heart disease and SCA. As a side benefit, you may also lower your score in golf!