• By Dana Sparks

In the Loop: Returning to the football field after cardiac arrest

November 21, 2017

cardiac patient Nick Zahos in his football gear Nick Zahos was just 17 when he suddenly went into cardiac arrest. Doctor's weren't sure why it occurred, but one thing was certain: Nick wasn't ready for his football playing days to be behind him.


Nick Zahos lay in a New Brunswick, New Jersey, hospital bed wondering if life as he knew it was over. Just an hour before, the 17-year-old had been home with his family settling in to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Dallas Cowboys, when his heart suddenly stopped beating. By all appearances, Nick was more than healthy. NJ.com writer Matthew Stanmyre describes him as "a 6-foot-1, 215-pound football and lacrosse star capable of bench-pressing 245 pounds and running a mile in less than eight minutes." Yet there Nick was, unconscious on the floor while his older brother, Tommy, administered CPR and his father dialed 911.

When police and paramedics arrived, Nick was shocked back to life with an automated external defibrillator and flown to a nearby hospital, where he slowly regained consciousness. The days that followed would do little to explain what had happened. Stanmyre reports that all of Nick's test results "came back negative." More tests at another medical facility yielded the same results. Doctors remained "baffled" over what had caused Nick's heart to suddenly stop. Read the rest of Nick's story.
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This story originally appeared on the In the Loop blog. 

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