HealthDay News — For athletes with cardiac arrest, attempts to prevent tongue swallowing are an obstacle to resuscitation, according to a study published online in HeartRhythm.

Dana Viskin, from Tel Aviv University in Israel, and colleagues examined a professional medical team’s response to events of cardiac arrest or transient loss of consciousness (LOC) if the latter prompted any form of resuscitation that were caught on video or described in detail. Twenty-nine videos were found, showing athletes collapsing with cardiac arrest (23 athletes) or LOC (6 athletes); 1 video was excluded.

The researchers found that in all cases, fellow team members were the first to notice the event and approach the collapsed player.

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Not one of these fellow athletes initiated or attempted chest compressions. In 26 of 28 videos, the initial intervention was clearly visible, and in 17 of them it was an attempt to prevent tongue swallowing. Only 8 of the athletes had chest compression visibly applied, and these were started later (mean delay of 58 ± 27 seconds from initial contact with collapsed player). Only 2 of the 28 athletes received defibrillation; in 1 case after 10 minutes. In the 17 cases with interventions to open the airway, 15 maneuvers were initiated or continued by medical support personnel from the athletes’ team.

“Recognizing that the ‘tongue swallowing fallacy’ is a real obstacle to appropriate cardiopulmonary resuscitation is important,” the authors write.

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Viskin D, Rosso R, Havakuk O, Yankelson L, Viskin S. Attempts to prevent “tongue swallowing” may well be in the main obstacle for successful bystander resuscitation of athletes with cardiac arrest [published online September 19, 2017]. Heart Rhythm J. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2017.08.012