Damar Hamlin may have suffered “remarkably rare” condition, doctor says

Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin may have suffered a “remarkably rare” condition when he collapsed on the field during Monday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus told “CBS Mornings.”

The Bills said Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest following a hit in the game. Video shows that after the hit, he stood up, took a few steps and fell to the ground.

While it’s not yet clear what caused Hamlin’s heart to suddenly stop beating, Agus believes he sustained blunt force trauma to his chest “in the exact right spot, at the exact right moment during his heartbeat,” which caused his heart to have an arrhythmia — “not beat effectively to push blood to the brain.”

Agus suspects Hamlin’s heart was in ventricular fibrillation.

“What we know with commotio cordis, which is this condition, is that every minute you delay shocking them, resuscitating them, what happens is there’s an increase of 10% in mortality,” Agus said. “They started CPR right away, which is great. My hope is they were able to restore the heart rate soon enough to be able to get blood flow to the brain so there’s no damage there.”

Only about 30 of these cases happen in the United States each year, predominantly in children, according to Agus.

“It happens in little league baseball. A ball is thrown by a pitcher and hits the person in the chest,” Agus said. “It happens in soccer where there’s something that causes that blunt force trauma. So, remarkably rare.”

Hamlin’s heartbeat was restored on the field, according to the Buffalo Bills, and he was transferred to the UC Medical Center for further testing and treatment. As of early Tuesday morning, he was sedated and in critical condition.

Agus anticipates more about his state will be known over the next day.

“We are going to know a lot over the next 12 to 24 hours as they start to turn down the machine that’s breathing for him, the ventilator, to see if he can breathe on his own, and our hopes and prayers are that he can,” Agus said.