25-Year-Old Goes into Cardiac Arrest During Team Quarterfinals, Saved by Quick Acting Teammates and an AED

April 6, 2023 by
Photo Credit: Oscar Tyrberg(@oscartyrberg)
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In hindsight, Oscar Tyrberg said he should have listened to the subtle warning signs.

  • Sometimes when he worked out at high intensity, he would get dizzy, “but it would always pass quickly,” he said. Besides, he is only 25 years old and was “completely healthy and training hard for Quarterfinals,” said Tryberg, so he shrugged off his dizzy spells.

But then last week during the second team Quarterfinals at CrossFit Fabriken in Sweden, Tyrberg started feeling very dizzy in the middle of the workout. Shortly after that, he passed out and doesn’t remember anything that happened next.

What happened was the gym owner and his teammates came to his rescue, began chest compressions and administered an AED.

  • “I was only unconscious for about eight minutes due to their amazing effort, which saved my life,” said Tyrberg, who had gone into cardiac arrest and is still in the hospital today. 

Tryberg has since discovered that he has a condition called ARVC—or Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy—a disease of the heart muscle that interrupts normal electrical signals in the heart and can cause potentially life-threatening heart rhythms.

  • “It’s the second most common reason for young elite athletes going into cardiac arrest…so it’s a scary disease,” said Tryberg, who has been doing CrossFit for 10 years and competing for eight.

This week, Tryberg had an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) placed into his body, which essentially will help keep the pace of his heart and “prevent it from happening again,” he said. 

  • “I will be ok, but I will not be allowed to do high intensity CrossFit or max lifting ever again. Only moderate exercise from now on,” Tryberg added.

One big thing: While having an AED at a fitness facility is not the law in Sweden, it is in 15 American states, explained Vaughn Vernon, the owner of Affiliate Guard, an insurance company with a book of 2,500 gyms, many of which are CrossFit gyms.

  • According to Vernon, his 2,500 gyms experience an average of six fatalities a year due to cardiac arrest, a number that having an AED, and coaches trained in First Aid, at least have a chance to reduce.

In fact, we have reported multiple cases where gyms with an AED helped save a member’s life, such as last October at CrossFit Games champion Andrea Nisler’s gym. Meanwhile, another CrossFit member’s life was saved at Sharp Edge CrossFit last September because of an AED, and another at CrossFit Megalodon in 2021.

If that’s enough, Vernon shared this story: A long-time gym that his company insures had a member die after going into cardiac arrest. 

  • The member’s ex-wife sued the gym for wrongful death, and the court ruled in her favor because the judge said that an AED could possibly have saved the member’s life. Vernon’s company had to pay out $2.5 million to the ex-wife.
  • Because of this (and because of its ability to save lives), Vernon said he will not take on a new gym as a client unless they have an AED, because not having one “is just irresponsible,” he said. 

The big picture: Vernon’s message is one Tryberg is also preaching from his hospital bed, as he believes the only reason he is still here today, and without long-term damage, is because the gym had an AED. 

  • “All gyms should have an AED, no doubt. And coaches should have education in how to use an AED and perform compressions,” Tryberg said.

“The effort of my teammates is something that I would like to really highlight. From what I have heard (when you go into cardiac arrest) it’s common to have severe brain damage due to oxygen not getting to the brain. Their effort was so good that not only did I survive, but I don’t have lasting damage.”

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