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Every minute counts: this is how heart massage saves lives

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Everyone in the football stadium was shocked when the Danish player Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch during Denmark’s opening Euro 2020 game against Finland. The cause is still unclear. The case shows, however, that every minute counts when it comes to chest compressions.

Relief gives way to shock. Medics saved Christian Eriksen’s life. 

“He’s doing a lot better,” said Inter Milan’s managing director Beppe Marotta on the Italian TV channel “Sky Sport”. 

“I can only say that 10 minutes ago Eriksen himself sent a message in our internal chat and this confirms the bond between the players.”

“The best thing I can say is that Eriksen responded positively to the intervention of his teammates first of all, Simon Kjaer was very important, and the medical structure present at the stadium.”

The 29-year-old midfielder collapsed during the European Championship preliminary round match between Denmark and Finland (0-1). 

Eriksen fell to the ground for no apparent reason and lay motionless. Collectively, the audience caught their breath, it had become very quiet in the stadium. That 43rd minute in Copenhagen put the football world to a standstill. However, the key players acted. Eriksen shielded his teammates, while captain Simon Kjær provided first aid.

Covid wasn’t the cause

The Italian soccer champion Inter Milan, with whom Eriksen has been under contract since last year, is in close contact with the Danish doctors, according to Marotta.

He did not want to speculate about the reasons for the collapse, said the managing director. One thing, however, Marotta added: “He was not sick with Covid and he was also not vaccinated.”

Teammates provided first aid directly

Whatever the cause of Eriksen’s unconsciousness – his teammates reacted correctly immediately. Denmark’s captain Simon Kjaer immediately recognized that there was no time to lose. The defender provided first aid.

Kjaer stabilized Eriksen, preventing the midfielder from swallowing his tongue and making sure he could keep breathing. Even before the medics got on the field, he signals to them that cardiopulmonary resuscitation is necessary.

This is important because every minute counts. As soon as the heart is not adequately supplied with oxygen, heart muscles begin to die. Hence the principle “Time is Muscle”, according to which medical professionals act.

Heart massage brought Eriksen back

The Danish team doctor Martin Boesen spoke at the press conference after the game about the anxious moments when Christian Eriksen suddenly collapsed on the pitch and was lying there:

“He was lying on his side, breathing and also had his pulse,” said Boesen. 

“But suddenly that changed and we started with the heart massage. We managed to get him back. Eriksen was clearly “unconscious”.”

Such a moment of shock shows how important every minute is in such a situation. Often you ask yourself whether you yourself also know what to do.

Immediate action in the event of an emergency – this is what you have to do

If, for example, a cardiac arrest occurs, people around the person affected have to react quickly. Because if the heart no longer transports oxygen, organ damage occurs within a few minutes – the brain in particular is affected. Health experts recommend the following steps:

1. Check whether the person can be approached! Shake the patient’s both shoulders and ask the name and what happened.

2. Check the person’s mouth and nose to see if they are still breathing. To do this, you should overextend the unconscious person’s head. Rattling and gasping are typical of the first phase after cardiac arrest.

3. Call an ambulance immediately.

4. Start immediately with a chest compressions: For this, the person should lie on a hard surface. Kneel down next to the person and place one hand on the middle of the chest, the other hand over it and press the breastbone about five to six centimeters in quick succession towards the spine – about 100 to 120 times per minute. Relieve the pressure after each press and never interrupt the massage by breathing.

An example of the correct timing is the song “Stayin alive” by the Bee Gees. Background: The cardiac massage creates blood circulation and transports blood with oxygen to the brain – this prevents thousands of brain cells from dying off.

5. If you are alone with the person concerned without any further helpers, you have to carry out the massage until the ambulance service arrives and do not interrupt it under any circumstances – too many brain cells die as a result. If there are two of you, the other helper will get you a defibrillator if there is one nearby. With the AED (Automated External Defibrillator) then follow the instructions of the integrated speech module.

Photo by Martin Meissner – Pool/Getty Images

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