HOUSTON — Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin remains in critical condition after collapsing on the field after a tackle during Monday night's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
In a statement, the Bills said Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest after a hit. CPR was administered on the field to restore his heartbeat before being transferred to the hospital for additional testing and treatment.
Hamlin was hurt while tackling Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins that didn't appear violent. After adjusting his facemask, Hamlin fell and lay motionless. He was down for 19 minutes getting medical attention.
Now experts are giving more insight into what might have happened to Hamlin.
"This is pretty much developing into what we think is Commotio Cordis," Dr. Anthony Cardillo told CNN. "This is a traumatic injury to the anterior chest and it has to happen at the exact time when the heart is getting prepared to beat again."
According to the University of Connecticut, Commotio Cordis can be caused by a low or mild chest wall impact. It usually happens in athletes between 8 and 18 who play baseball, hockey or lacrosse, or any sport with projectiles that can hit an athlete in the middle of the chest.
Martial arts athletes can also be at risk with a strike of a hand. UConn states that without immediate CPR and defibrillation, survival is rare.
The condition itself is also extremely rare, according to Cardillo.
"It's almost like getting struck by lightning," Cardillo said. "It's that rare. There has to be acute trauma to the anterior chest just at that right moment."
There have been several other medical events that either suspended or postponed competitions.
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapsed in the 43rd minute of a match against Finland in June 2021, with doctors later revealing how incredibly close he came to death.
In Dec. 2020, Keyontae Johnson was playing for Florida against rival Florida State. After a timeout, Johnson returned to the court and collapsed face-first.
Playing for the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 2020, Jay Bouwmeester went into cardiac arrest on the bench during the first period of a game against the Anaheim Ducks.
In March 1990, Hank Gathers collapsed and died during Loyola Marymount's West Coast Conference men’s college basketball tournament game against Portland.
Less than three months earlier, Gathers collapsed during another game and subsequent tests revealed that he had arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat.
On Oct. 1971, Chuck Hughes of the Detroit Lions had a heart attack late in the fourth quarter of an NFL game against the Chicago Bears. He was officially pronounced dead about 50 minutes after the game.
Bill Masterton died Jan. 15, 1968, two days after suffering a severe head injury while playing for the Minnesota North Stars against the Oakland Seals. His death was believed to be the only caused by an on-ice incident in NHL history.