photo_footballEXETER, NH – Cardiac arrest: two small words with a huge meaning to them. The topic of sudden cardiac death is an attention grabber, especially when you see top athletes collapsing on the field on live television. What many people don’t understand about cardiac arrest is that it can hit anyone, even young, healthy athletes. That’s why doctors are trying to figure out a way to reduce the risk.

A recent article in Medical News Today showcased a meeting of the world’s leading heart specialists met in Berlin to discuss their experiences and share new approaches to diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders. During the presentation, one of the specialists pointed out major differences in the ECG assessment of athletes and non-athletes, or assessing the heart’s rhythm and rate. Access Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics’ Dr. Kevin Heaton said this topic is an ongoing debate among cardiologists and sports medicine specialists.

“There is a general consensus [that] ECG screenings can improve our ability to detect silent congenital heart problems. However, the problem remains how cost effective and feasible is a large scale program, such as adding on ECG screening to routine pre-participation exams. In addition to the cost it would also require those interpreting the studies to be familiar with and trained on the many subtle ECG changes that occur due to sports training which are in fact not pathologic,” he said.

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