Sudden cardiac arrest is not a heart attack, but is often due to a cardiovascular disorder causing the heart to suddenly and unexpectedly stop beating. The leading cause of death for youth and teen athletes during exercise, sudden cardiac arrest can happen without warning during any physical activity. Knowing how to react when a player suddenly drops on the field is crucial to saving a life. U.S. Soccer’s Recognize to Recover program provides resources to help players, parents, coaches and referees better understand cardiac events.



  • Warning symptoms of an existing heart condition include: chest pain and/or passing out with exercise; racing heart; and/or a family member who died suddenly from a heart condition or suffered sudden cardiac arrest before the age of 50.
  • The first sign of cardiac arrest is when a player collapses without contact during practice or a game.
  • Risk factors for sudden cardiac arrest include: smoking, obesity, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle and drug abuse.
  • Males and African-Americans are more likely to suffer from sudden cardiac arrest.








  • Have a plan identifying quick help for all practices and games.
  • Identify the collapsed individual.
  • Assign someone to call 911, and someone to retrieve an automated external defibrillator (AED).
  • Start hands-only CPR – chest compressions in the center of the chest, pushing hard and fast. Hands-only CPR is easier to remember, perform, and teach than traditional CPR. It also does not require mouth-to-mouth contact.
  • Continue chest compressions. Once the AED arrives, place the pads on the individual as shown by the device. The AED will guide you by voice on next steps.
  • If no AED is available, continue chest compressions until emergency personnel arrive. Switch with another person if you get tired.
  • Coaches, parents, players and referees that have CPR training and access to an automated external defibrillator (AED) can save lives. In fact, when an AED is used within three minutes of a collapse, there is an 89 percent survival rate.