So, you may have heard that Verizon Indycar Driver Jack Hawksworth had myocardial contusion to his heart, but that wasn’t really explained. Well, here’s my understanding. I’m finishing my senior year of nursing school and currently work in hospital that works with a lot of motor vehicle accident survivors. If anyone with more medical knowledge/experience would like to correct anything I write, please feel free to do so.
The heart is basically a fist-sized muscle suspended in a fluid-filled cavity called the pericardium. Often in a rapid-deceleration accident is that the heart, which tends hang in the center of the pericardium will be slammed from one side to another, which can bruise the muscle tissue. Your heart forcefully contracts between 60 to 100 times a minute on average, so obviously a bruise on a muscle that moves that much can cause significant of pain.
I don’t have any details of Hawksworth’s treatment, but protocol would call for connecting him to an ECG and monitoring him for the next 24 hours, at a minimum, which is why he was held out of Sunday’s Pocono Indy 500. During this monitoring period the staff is watching for any sort of change in heart function that could suggest a more serious injury. Myocardial contusions can result in an increase of fluid in the pericardium, which makes it more difficult for heart to beat, disturb the cycle of the heart’s contractions or develop enough damage to the heart wall that will make it more difficult for the heart to contract.
Without knowing specific details of his injury I can’t say how likely it is that we’ll see Hawk back in a car for Iowa Corn 300, but myocardial bruising doesn’t require surgery in a significant number of cases. That he was released from the hospital almost exactly 24 hours after he was admitted Sunday night, so that bodes well. I don’t put odds on recoveries, it all depends on the level of injuries sustained, and any complications in the hospital.
Get well soon Hawk!