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Finland vs Denmark Euro 2020: game ends with a player being resuscitated – and surviving!

Successful restart of the heart from a cardiac arrest during a game

I was watching the game and Christian Eriksen, the Denmark captain collapsed. It reminded me of Fabrice Muamba and his collapse at a premiere league game. He survived.

What causes a collapse?

This can be due to the brain- eg epilepsy- a blackout.

This can be due to the heart- the heart can go too fast (tachycardia) or too slow (bradycardia)- a syncope.

In addition the heart can STOP. In younger perople this is uusually due to ventricular fibrillation (VF)– the electricity of the heart goes haywire, and there is no coordinated heart beat. In older patiients, you may see asystole– absolutely NO electrical activity, or PEA– then there is activity that looks normal, but the heart muscle can no longer respond. This is a cardiac arrest.

Most commonly, of course, it can be a simple faint- the heart does not stop, and recovery is quick.

What caused his collapse?

Obviously as yet, just after it has happened, no one will know. He is a professional athlete, and will have had regular medicals to ensure he is fit to play. Just as in other athletes that suddenly collapse, VF is the likely mechanism of his collpase, but WHY it occured will take time to sort out. The early news is that he has made it to hospital alive.

What tests will he have?

It is likely that he will have:

  • his coronary blood vessels assessed- an angiogram
  • be checked for blood clots- a CT scan
  • have blood tests to ensure it was not a salt imbalance on a warm day that caused his cardiac arrest.
  • He will have electrical tests to see if there is an underlying instability of his heart rhythm.


I wish his well in his recovery- the cardiology input will be key in sorting out what actually happened. As the resusitation was immediate and successful, one would hope for a full recovery.

Dr Malik is Medical Director of  OneWelbeck Heart Health and London Cardiovascular Clinic,  and is Clinical Director of Structural Heart Disease at Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London.


Update June 2021

It was great  to see that Christian Eriksen left  Rigshospitalet Hospital in Copenhagen  following a successful operation to fit a defibrillator implant. This device will protect him in case the heart rhythm misbehaves again. I wish him well for the future.

What is a  Defibrillator?

This is a “shock box”. If the heart is too slow, it will “pace” to ensure it cant go slower. If the heart is in “VF”, then it will “Shock” to reset the heart electrically. See

this section.

Congratulations Professor Mayet

It has been a pleasure to work with Jamil Mayet over the last decade, and his research endeavors have lead to him being awarded a Professorship at Imperial College, London. I am delighted for him, and it is well deserved. My colleague Nick Peters already has a “Chair”, as Professorships are called, and so at LCC we really have a high caliber partnership. Jamil and I were recently in America presenting some of this research, with a new technique to target which narrowing’s in patients arteries are the cause of their angina. This was one of the biggest stories at the annual TCT cardiology conference 2011. More on this to follow.

Iqbal Malik