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Trends Cardiovasc Med. 2010 Aug;20(6):195-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tcm.2011.06.001.

Pre-participation examination of competitive athletes: role of the ECG.

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Institute of Sports Medicine, Prevention and Rehabilitation, Paracelsus Medical University, Salzburg, Austria.


Sudden cardiac death in athletes is rare but has a wide social impact because it confronts the general population with the paradox that athletes perceived and admired as the fittest and healthiest suddenly drop dead during their sport. Mass media coverage is guaranteed in the case of sudden cardiac death of a top athlete, while other competitive and noncompetitive athletes of all ages, team members, sponsors, as well as huge parts of society remain puzzled and frightened. Therefore, debate is ongoing regarding how to minimize the number of fatalities, and the search continues for a cost-effective preparticipation screening for competitive athletes. Despite the fact that routine ECG screening would be widely available and rather inexpensive, debate continues regarding whether this should be part of initial screening for every athlete before starting to train at high intensity as well as during annual checkups. The role of ECGs in preparticipation examinations of competitive athletes is intensively discussed because there is a lack of strict criteria for which ECG findings should generate further workup. In this article, we analyze the main publications on sudden cardiac death, focusing on the benefit of ECG screening in preparticipation examination as it has been shown to be feasible and effective in identifying athletes at risk of sudden cardiac death.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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