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Clin J Sport Med. 2010 Mar;20(2):98-105. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e3181d44705.

Addition of the electrocardiogram to the preparticipation examination of college athletes.

Author information

1
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94304, USA. vyvanle@gmail.com

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Although the use of standardized cardiovascular (CV) system-focused history and physical examination is recommended for the preparticipation examination (PPE) of athletes, the addition of the electrocardiogram (ECG) has been controversial. Because the impact of ECG screening on college athletes has rarely been reported, we analyzed the findings of adding the ECG to the PPE of Stanford athletes.

DESIGN:

For the past 15 years, the Stanford Sports Medicine program has mandated a PPE questionnaire and physical examination by Stanford physicians for participation in intercollegiate athletics. In 2007, computerized ECGs with digital measurements were recorded on athletes and entered into a database.

SETTING:

Although the use of standardized CV-focused history and physical examination are recommended for the PPE of athletes, the addition of the ECG has been controversial. Because the feasibility and outcomes of ECG screening on college athletes have rarely been reported, we present findings derived from the addition of the ECG to the PPE of Stanford athletes. For the past 15 years, the Stanford Sports Medicine program has mandated a PPE questionnaire and physical examination by Stanford physicians for participation in intercollegiate athletics. In 2007, computerized ECGs with digital measurements were recorded on athletes and entered into a database.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Six hundred fifty-eight recordings were obtained (54% men, 10% African-American, mean age 20 years) representing 24 sports. Although 68% of the women had normal ECGs, only 38% of the men did so. Incomplete right bundle branch block (RBBB) (13%), right axis deviation (RAD) (10%), and atrial abnormalities (3%) were the 3 most common minor abnormalities. Sokolow-Lyon criteria for left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) were found in 49%; however, only 27% had a Romhilt-Estes score of >or=4. T-wave inversion in V2 to V3 occurred in 7%, and only 5 men had abnormal Q-waves. Sixty-three athletes (10%) were judged to have distinctly abnormal ECG findings possibly associated with conditions including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia/cardiomyopathy. These athletes were offered further testing but this was not mandated according to the research protocol.

RESULTS:

Six hundred fifty-three recordings were obtained (54% men, 7% African American, mean age 20 years), representing 24 sports. Although 68% of the women had normal ECGs, only 38% of the men did so. Incomplete RBBB (13%), RAD (10%), and atrial abnormalities (3%) were the 3 most common minor abnormalities. Sokolow-Lyon criteria for LVH were found in 49%; however, only 27% had a Romhilt-Estes score of >or=4. T-wave inversion in V2 to V3 occurred in 7% and only 5 men had abnormal Q-waves. Sixty-five athletes (10%) were judged to have distinctly abnormal ECG findings suggestive of arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and/or biventricular hypertrophy. These athletes will be submitted to further testing.

CONCLUSIONS:

Mass ECG screening is achievable within the collegiate setting by using volunteers when the appropriate equipment is available. However, the rate of secondary testing suggests the need for an evaluation of cost-effectiveness for mass screening and the development of new athlete-specific ECG interpretation algorithms.

PMID:
20215891
DOI:
10.1097/JSM.0b013e3181d44705
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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