Study suggests new screening method for sudden death in athletes

A new study suggests that echocardiography be included as part of screenings to help identify student athletes with heart problems that could lead to sudden death.

The Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center study, presented recently at the annual meeting of the American Society of Echocardiography, suggests adding a modified echo to the current practice of taking an EKG, getting a and having a physical exam.

"EKG is a good tool, but may not be sensitive enough to catch problems that could lead to ," says Michelle Grenier, MD, a physician at the Cincinnati Children's Heart Institute and one of the investigators of the study. "We found that an abbreviated echo is a fiscally responsible addition that will yield useful information when screening for structural and – heart muscle diseases that are the major cause of sudden death in athletes."

Screening for risk of sudden death in athletes has long been a topic of controversy, in part because it is expensive and time consuming. Her study, however, indicates that a shortened echo may increase the sensitivity of finding heart defects in competitive athletes.

As part of an ongoing study, Dr. Grenier and colleagues at Cincinnati Children's recruited 85 teen athletes for a screening that included a health questionnaire, physical exam, EKG and a 15-image, modified echo that took nine minutes, on average, to obtain. Echoes that were considered abnormal were referred for a complete echo, where they were read by a cardiologist not involved in the study.

Ten of the participants (12 percent) had abnormal echoes when read in real-time and were referred for further assessment. These 10 participants had a normal history, and EKG. All preliminary diagnoses were later substantiated. The researchers found no additional , and all 10 echoes were later confirmed to be abnormal.

"The number of patients with asymptomatic, congenital heart disease was higher than expected, but the rate of cardiomyopathy – the main cause of sudden death in athletes – is probably closer to the published rate," says Dr. Grenier. "Our goal is to provide useful information to care providers, who may then better counsel athletes and their families on full participation in sports.

"The cost-effectiveness and impact on reducing the rate of sudden cardiac death aren't yet known, but the impact on quality of life in reassurance of cardiac health during exercise is priceless," she says.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Heart checks urged for athletes

Oct 04, 2006

Italian researchers say making young athletes undergo mandatory heart checkups may establish their risk for sudden cardiac death.

The heartfelt truth about sudden death in young athletes

Apr 05, 2011

The sudden death of a young athlete always prompts full media attention, most recently spurring a call for preventative screening methods, including costly electrocardiogram (EKG) tests for all school-age athletes. But a ...

EKG testing may spot fatal heart conditions in children

Mar 09, 2012

(HealthDay) -- Each year, between one and six of every 100,000 U.S. children are a victim of sudden cardiac death. In many of these cases, underlying, undiagnosed heart trouble is responsible, and a new study ...

Recommended for you

An autoimmune response may contribute to hypertension

54 minutes ago

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke, chronic heart failure, and kidney disease. Inflammation is thought to promote the development of high blood pressure, though it is not clear what triggers ...

Results of RIBS IV trial reported

Sep 16, 2014

A new clinical trial comparing the use of everolimus-eluting stents (EES) and drug-eluting balloons (DEB) in treating in-stent restenosis (ISR) from drug-eluting stents found that EES provided superior late angiographic results ...

Results of DKCRUSH-VI trial reported

Sep 16, 2014

A new study found that fractional flow reserve (FFR)-guided provisional side branch (SB) stenting of true coronary bifurcation lesions yields similar outcomes to the current standard of care. The DKCRUSH-VI clinical trial ...

Results of IVUS-CTO trial reported at TCT 2014

Sep 16, 2014

A new study found that intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) -guided intervention in patients with chronic total occlusion (CTO) could improve outcomes compared to a conventional angiography-guided approach during percutaneous ...

User comments