Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Br J Sports Med. 2016 Sep;50(17):1075-80. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2015-095867. Epub 2016 May 26.

Cardiovascular diseases in Paralympic athletes.

Author information

1
Institute of Sport Medicine and Science, Rome, Italy.
2
Department of Human Physiology and Pharmacology, University Sapienza, Rome, Italy.
3
TUFTS Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
4
Department of Human Physiology and Pharmacology, University Sapienza, Rome, Italy Italian Paralympic Committee, Rome, Italy.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Sport participation (SP) of individuals with impairments has recently grown exponentially. Scarce scientific data, however, exist regarding cardiovascular (CV) risk associated with competitive SP.

OBJECTIVE:

Assessing the prevalence of CV abnormalities and the risk for SP in Paralympic athletes (PA).

METHODS:

PA (n=267; 76% men), aged 35±9 years, engaged in 18 sport disciplines, with a spectrum of lesions including: spinal cord injury (paraplegia and spina bifida) (n=116); amputation, poliomyelitis, cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular and/or skeletal disorders (Les autres) or visual impairment (n=151) entered the study. CV evaluation included history, PE, 12-lead and exercise ECG, echocardiography. Of these, 105 participated in ≥2 consecutive games, and had evaluations available over a 6±4 year follow-up.

RESULTS:

Structural CV abnormalities were identified in 33 athletes (12%), including arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathies in 3, aortic root dilation in 3, valvular diseases in 7 (mitral valve prolapse in 4, bicuspid aortic valve in 3) and systemic hypertension in 11 (4%). In addition, ventricular (polymorphic, couplets or non-sustained ventricular tachycardia) or supraventricular tachyarrhythmias (atrial flutter, paroxysmal atrial fibrillation or SVT) were identified in 9 others. Over a 6-year follow-up, 6 of the 105 athletes (6%) developed CV diseases, including dilated cardiomyopathy in 1 and systemic hypertension in 5.

CONCLUSIONS:

PA present an unexpected high prevalence of CV abnormalities (12%), including a non-trivial proportion of diseases at risk for sudden death (2%), such as arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathies and dilated aortic root. This observation suggests that tailored recommendations for preparticipation screening and safe SP in this special athletic population are timely and appropriate.

KEYWORDS:

Athlete; Disabled; Heart disease

PMID:
27231335
DOI:
10.1136/bjsports-2015-095867
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center