Is it Safe to Participate in Sports? Cardiovascular Screenings for Athletes
Written by Bryan Heart Cardiologist, John Steuter, MD
Cardiovascular screening in athletes is universally supported, but the best model for accurate detection of athletes and children with potentially lethal heart disorders remains challenging and often controversial.
Most athletes who suffer sudden cardiac arrest do not have warning signs or symptoms before their cardiac arrest. Some symptoms can be under-reported by athletes or go unrecognized by medical providers.
Important symptoms to be evaluated if present include:
- Passing out during exercise
- Chest pain with exercise
- New onset fatigue or excessive shortness of breath with exercise
- Palpitations (heart racing for no reason)
- A family member with early onset heart disease or sudden death from a heart condition before the age of 40
Remember to keep in mind that the age of the athlete makes a difference on the most likely etiology as reviewed in the figure below.
Maron,BJ et al. Circulation 2007.
If you have a patient with any positive family history, any of the above symptoms, or physical exam findings of heart disorders are found, it’s recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) to refer the athlete to a cardiologist.
To refer a patient to Bryan Heart, call 402-483-3333.