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Wednesday, September 2nd 2009

Lacrosse Is A ‘Dangerous’ Sport

I love lacrosse. It’s my favorite sport on the field; my favorite to play. My favorite stick is still sitting next to my bed despite the fact I haven’t stepped competitively on a field in four years.

But it is a surprisingly violent sport and has some unique things about it which make players on the field slightly more prone to blunt cardiac injuries than in other sports. Here’s the study in Pediatrics (subscription).

Although the overall mortality rate of lacrosse was similar to other major sports, the rate of sudden death attributed to commotio cordis (0.63 per 100,000 person-years) was significantly higher for lacrosse than baseball (0.24, P=0.017), football (0.043, P<0.0001), and other sports, except for hockey (0.53, P=0.73).

Don’t freak out too much. Despite that increase in blunt cardiac injuries with lacrosse, the incidence of sudden death amongst lacrosse players as compared to players of other major sports is essentially the same. Sudden death in young athletes gets a lot of attention, as it should, but it is exceedingly rare. Amongst sudden deaths in athletes, the most common etiology is not commotio cordis (or other blunt trauma) but congenital cardiac abnormalities.

I gained a lot more from lacrosse than any risk of commotio cordis I took when stepping out on the field.