Autopsy: HS football player died of rare heart condition

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A high school football player who died after a game this weekend suffered from a rare heart condition, doctors say. (Facebook)

An autopsy report revealed that an abnormal heart condition caused the death of the 17-year-old boy from Manvel who died during a football game Saturday.

According to the Bexar County Medical Examiner, complications of aberrant arteries caused 17-year-old Chase Lightfoot's death.

Doctor John Breinholt is the Chief of Pediatric Cardiology at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital and UT Health. He said this condition is almost impossible to detect in routine sports physicals.

VIDEO: Shadow Creek football player dies after game

"The gold standard for determining a coronary abnormality is through coronary angiography," Breinholt said, "Which is a cardiac catheterization, an invasive procedure, which will never be in any normal screen."

The medical examiner said Lightfoot was born with abnormal cardiac arteries. That means his arteries do not take the normal paths through the heart to supply the organ with blood. The medical examiner said Lightfoot likely did not show symptoms and did not know his heart carried these abnormalities.

Dr. Breinholt said some people with aberrant coronary arteries show symptoms like shortness of breath or chest pain during exercise. Others live their whole lives without experiencing a problem. And yet others, like Lightfoot, die suddenly.
Breinholt said the condition is extremely rare.

"One statistic I saw put motor vehicle accidents killing about 11,000 teenagers per year," Breinholt said, "And sudden cardiac death was placed at 0.5 per year. You're actually more likely to be struck by lightning."

Breinholt said it is important for student athletes to speak up about any heart-related symptoms during practice so that in-depth tests can be done.

Lightfoot's family released the following statement Monday afternoon:

Our family would like to express our sincere appreciation for all the acts of love and kindness shown during this most difficult time.
Chase was a very special young man. He was a loving and thoughtful person that never met a stranger. He was a friend to everyone that he met, young and old.

Chase loved being around his friends and family. He loved working in his church, whether it was singing in the choir, ushering, being a junior deacon or working with the kids in children's church. Most of all Chase loved football and being a Shadow Creek Shark.

The family would like to thank the Alvin ISD administration, Shadow Creek High School leadership, teachers and students for all of their support. A special thank you to the coaches, teammates, and assistant superintendents for never leaving Chase's side in his final moments.
Thank you to the Pearland, Manvel, and Alvin community for your outpouring of love and support.

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