What causes athletes to have sudden heart attacks/cardiac arrest?

Strctural heart dis. Sudden cardiac arrest is usually due to conduction disease or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Pete maravich died of coronary artery disease during a pick up game. It turns out he only had 1 coronary artery. It is the main reason athletes at all levels have preliminary cardiac clearence.
Underlying Condition. Most commonly, if this were to happen, an athlete would have an underlying heart condition. What you may be referring to is that long-term athletes can have enlargement of the heart musculature due to increased needs of the body. This could potentially lead to abnormal heart rhythms.

Related Questions

In a healthy heart can strong emotions such as fear, anger, anxiety and a rxn to a natural disaster cause a heart attack or cardiac arrest? : (

Unlikey. Need other issues-atherosclerosis and risk factors smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, etc. Read more...
Yes. There is a condition caused "broken heart syndrome, " where someone can get cardiac arrest from severe stress or emotions. It is quite rare, but it can happen. It is caused by the surge of stress hormones, like adrenaline, that can be released from severe stress. I must stress - no pun intended - that it is rare, but it can happen, and I have seen it happen. Read more...
Broken Heart. "Acute stress cardiomyopathy" is a condition which mimics heart attack. It can cause severe heart complications including heart failure and death. The diagnosis is generally made by the history (a sudden severe emotional or physical stress followed by chest symptoms) and the finding of heart muscle dysfunction (often in Takotsubo pattern) and no coronary artery occlusion to explain it. . Read more...
Rarely. Although very uncommon, sudden cardiac arrest has occured in people with healthy hearts when sudden severe emotional trauma has occurred. Read more...
Extremely rare, but. The event you have worried is extremely rare and unpredictable in attesting life is a constantly changing adjusting dynamic process of struggle to cope with reality, certainty, & uncertainty of daily living. How to face life reality? Peruse articles in Basics of Life Reality & Self-care in http://formefirst.com/Basics-SelfImprovement.html and its related articles inside the category. Read more...

Is cardiac arrest the same thing as a heart attack?

Heart attack. A heart attack is when a blood vessel to the heart blocks off and a part of the heart is damaged. A cardiac arrest can be the result of a heart attack. Cardiac arrest is when the heart suddenly stops pumping for one reason or another. A heart attack can cause cardiac arrest. A cardiac arrest isn't necessarily caused by a heart attack. Read more...
No. Some persons with a heart attack= myocardial infarction may have cardiac stoppage- arrest-ventricular standstill or fibrillation. Read more...