American swimmer and record-setter Dana Vollmer’s mother doesn’t just cheer her on from the stands during competitions – she’s on alert, external defibrillator in tow, in case her daughter’s heart condition takes the spotlight during the races.
Diagnosed at 15 with a potentially deadly heart rhythm defect called long Q-T syndrome, Vollmer and her family opted against an implanted defibrillator that would have monitored her heart rhythms and provided a life-saving shock should she suffer a heart attack.
Long Q-T syndrome is one of the most common causes of sudden cardiac death in Americans under the age of 25 and the risk of cardiac arrest is 3 times higher among competitive athletes. But Vollmer, now 24 years old, wasn’t ready to give up an already burgeoning swimming career by getting the cardiac implant, the New York Times reported.
Instead, Vollmer and her family ensure that there is an automated external defibrillator on site every time she trains or competes.
When Vollmer won her first Olympic medal at the age of 16, shortly after doctors diagnosed her with long Q-T syndrome, her mother was nearby with an AED at her feet, according to EveryDayHealth.com.
Vollmer’s long Q-T syndrome seems to have dissipated in the last few years and doctors have been unable to detect the heart rhythm disorder any longer, according to the news site.
This year Vollmer became the 1st woman ever to finish the 100-meter butterfly in under 56 seconds. She’s taking home 3 gold medals this year.