Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in the United States, taking the lives of an estimated 400,000 people each year. Sudden cardiac arrest, which is not the same as a heart attack, occurs when the electrical system of the heart malfunctions, causing the heart to stop beating.

Sudden cardiac arrest is an indiscriminant killer and can strike anyone - including seemingly healthy young athletes. Between 25 and 33 percent of sudden cardiac arrest fatalities occur during sports activity.

One rare but potentially catastrophic phenomenon in athletes that results in sudden cardiac arrest is commotio cordis. Commotio cordis occurs when a blunt, but often relatively mild, blow to the area of the chest directly over the heart occurs during a precise moment of heart's cycle, leading to sudden cardiac arrest.

The most effective treatment for sudden cardiac arrest and, indeed, the only effective response to commotio cordis, is the timely delivery of a life-saving shock or defibrillation. Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are portable and easy-to-use devices devices that deliver potentially life-saving defibrillation therapy quickly and effectively.

US Lacrosse Praises NOCSAE Standard for Chest Protection

Because commotio cordis is so rare, little is known about its cause. But US Lacrosse is committed to educating the national lacrosse community about the potential dangers of commotio cordis, as well as the life-saving value of having AEDs available during lacrosse games and practices.

Every team or program should consider the purchase of an AED in order to assure the safest possible environment for their players, coaches, officials and spectators. Quite simply, AEDs save lives.