We all know that car accidents can lead to severe injuries not just for us, but for other drivers or victims as well. From head wounds, to lacerations, to broken bones, the number of injuries you can sustain from a car accident are practically endless. And on top of that endless list, we’re adding another injury to it: cardiac contusion.
We hear talk about broken hearts, but not too often about bruised hearts. Now more commonly known as blunt cardiac injury (BCI), a cardiac contusion (also known as myocardial contusion) usually occurs in situations where your chest is hit hard with something. (Causes include car accidents, falls, and CPR attempts.) Mount Sinai lists the symptoms of cardiac contusion as pain in the front of the ribs or breastbone, feeling that your heart is racing, lightheadedness, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, and weakness.
What complications can BCI cause?
There can be a range of accompanying injuries and complications from blunt cardiac injury. These injuries can lead to several health issues, including:
- Arrhythmias. Blunt cardiac injuries can disrupt the heart’s electrical signals, leading to arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats. This can have various symptoms and severity levels, from mild palpitations to life-threatening arrhythmias.
- Pericardial effusion. The pericardium is a sac surrounding the heart. Trauma can cause fluid to accumulate in this sac, which can compress the heart and affect its function.
- Valvular damage. Damage to the heart’s valves can lead to regurgitation or stenosis, affecting blood flow and potentially requiring surgical intervention.
- Aortic injury. In severe cases, car accidents can cause injury to the aorta, the body’s main artery. Aortic injuries are often life-threatening and demand immediate medical attention.
- Thoracic injuries. Blunt cardiac injuries are frequently associated with other chest injuries, such as rib fractures, lung contusions, or damage to the vessels within the chest.
- Cardiogenic shock. Cardiogenic shock is a severe, life-threatening condition in which the heart suddenly becomes unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. It typically results from a significant heart attack or other cardiac issues, leading to reduced oxygen delivery to vital organs and tissues, potentially causing multi-organ failure.
- Cardiac tamponade. In cases of pericardial effusion (fluid accumulation around the heart), the pressure on the heart can become so high that it impairs the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively, leading to sudden cardiovascular collapse.
- Sudden death. BCIs can be fatally dangerous, with any of these complications possibly leading to death without warning.
It’s crucial for individuals involved in car accidents with blunt cardiac injuries to receive prompt medical attention, as some of these injuries may not manifest immediately.
How can a Nashville car accident cause a cardiac contusion?
Research into cardiac contusions shows that most instances of this injury are caused by a vehicle accident of some kind. An article published in the National Library of Medicine reports that “significant BCI usually occurs from high-impact trauma from motor vehicle accidents (50%), pedestrians struck by motor vehicles (35%), motorcycle crashes (9%), and falls from significant heights (6%).”
A Nashville car accident can cause a blunt cardiac injury through the following mechanisms:
- Chest impact. During a car accident, especially high-impact collisions, a person’s chest can experience a sudden and forceful impact. This impact can transmit a shockwave through the body, leading to chest compression, which can directly affect the heart.
- Steering wheel or seatbelt. Impacting the steering wheel or being restrained by a seatbelt during a collision can transmit forces to the chest. The rapid deceleration and chest compression can result in chest trauma, potentially leading to cardiac contusion.
- Sudden deceleration. Car accidents often involve rapid deceleration, which can cause the body to move suddenly forward, impacting the chest against the steering wheel or dashboard. The resulting chest trauma can affect the heart.
- Seatbelt syndrome. In some cases, the seatbelt itself can cause injury, known as “seatbelt syndrome.” The diagonal shoulder strap can exert significant pressure on the chest during a collision, potentially leading to chest injuries, including cardiac contusions.
Just another thing to add to the list of “Reasons to Avoid Car Accidents.” Even when we’re on our best behaviors out on the road, we cannot control the actions of others. In those cases, it is usually someone else’s negligent behavior that caused the accident, and that is when you need the help of a Nashville personal injury attorney on your side.
It is important to know about the possible injuries you can receive from a car accident not just to make you an even more cautious driver, but so that if you are in a car accident, you know how quickly to seek medical attention, and what symptoms could possibly mean. And if someone else caused the crash, you should know that you may be owed compensation for your severe injuries and losses.
If you have been in a vehicle accident that caused blunt cardiac injury to your heart, call the Nashville injury lawyers at Rocky McElhaney Law Firm as soon as possible. We fight diligently for you and your case, conducting detailed investigations, and skillfully handling the complex legal process to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Reach out to us today by calling our office or completing our contact form for a free case evaluation at any of our convenient locations in Nashville, Murfreesboro, Hendersonville, and Clarksville.