Cardiac Rhythm

Ice hockey player has cardiac arrest during NHL game

Rich Peverly is a Dallas Stars hockey player and on Monday 3-10-14 he sustained a cardiac arrest after completing his shift in the first period of the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Seated on the bench after his skate, he slumped over and was gone.  Stars coach Lindy Ruff witnessed the event and summoned the team trainers and medical staff who went to work on Peverly – saving his life.  Shortly after regaining consciousness, Peverly asked how much time was left in the period? and whether he could return to the game?  On that night, no one but Peverly felt like playing hockey anymore and the game was postponed by the NHL.

Dallas Star’s Rich Peverly
(courtesy CBC)

Just weeks ago I posted a blog about stress and cardiac arrhythmia’s which are more common that one might expect (Sefton, 2014).  However, I would say that none of the patients on the service are elite athletes.  Rich Peverly was diagnosed with an arrhythmia known as atrial fibrillation in September during his preseason physical exam.  For anyone, this is an uncomfortable and scary experience.  Some patients describe it as an unnatural fluttering that leaves them tired and always worried about their heart.

Rich Peverly underwent a cardiac ablation procedure that was supposed to stop the problem which it did – until early March, 2014.  One week ago he had a return of the fluttering feeling in his chest and sat out a game because “he didn’t feel right.” On Monday night the worst fears came true as Peverly skated off the ice and experienced what was likely ventricular tachycardia leading to ventricular fibrillation – a life threatening arrhythmia.  On that night during the game Peverly was attended to by a competent and poised group of medical professionals who knew just what was wrong and just what to do about it.  The experience shocked and traumatized Peverly’s teammates and coaches but not the physician’s on duty.  They did what they are trained to do and saved the life of a young man who was not meant to die.  Just like that.

As of this posting one day later, Rich Peverly is being treated in a Dallas area hospital.  His physical health is now his own business and whether he ever plays again or not is up to he, his wife, and team physicians.  Rich Peverly has two small children.  Arguably, he will receive the best care money can buy but his heart is no different than many of the people on the event monitoring service.  The range of treatment options include a second ablation procedure, medication to help control his rate and rhythm, or even a defibrillator that can be inserted into his chest in the event his heart rhythm ever mimics the deadly one like yesterday.

Sefton, M. (2014) Taken 3-14.


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