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No Significant Risk Reduction from Chest Protectors

Compared to controls, chest protectors do not significantly decrease risk of ventricular fibrillation after baseball, lacrosse ball hits

MONDAY, April 3 (HealthDay News) -- Twelve commercially available chest protectors typically used by young athletes do not significantly reduce the risk of ventricular fibrillation from baseball or lacrosse ball strikes, according to a study of juvenile pigs published in the March issue of Pediatrics.

Jonathan Weinstock, M.D., of the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, and colleagues tested 12 baseball and lacrosse chest protectors in juvenile pigs, subjecting them to 40-mile-per-hour hits from baseballs or lacrosse balls.

Among control animals that were unprotected, ventricular fibrillation occurred in 12 out of 37 baseball hits (32 percent). The baseball chest protectors did not significantly cut the risk of ventricular fibrillation compared with controls. Depending on the type of chest protector, ventricular fibrillation occurred in 22 percent to 49 percent of the pigs.

Among the controls, ventricular fibrillation occurred in 11 out of 24 (46 percent) lacrosse ball hits. None of the tested lacrosse chest protectors significantly changed this risk in protected pigs. Depending on the type of lacrosse chest protector, ventricular fibrillation occurred in 21 percent to 50 percent of the pigs.

"Commercially available baseball and lacrosse chest wall protectors were ineffective in protecting against ventricular fibrillation that was triggered by chest blows and, by inference, sudden cardiac death, " the authors write. "Improvements in materials and design of chest wall barriers are necessary."

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