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Current Controversies in the Cardiovascular Screening of Athletes

Drezner, Jonathan; Berger, Stuart; Campbell, Robert

Current Sports Medicine Reports: March-April 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 2 - p 86-92
doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e3181d573d6
Section Articles

The sudden death of a young athlete on the playing field remains the most devastating medical event in sports, with compelling reasons to implement effective preventive strategies. Preparticipation screening is widely practiced, but universal agreement regarding the most appropriate method for cardiovascular screening is lacking. The addition of a resting 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) to a comprehensive personal and family history and physical examination will increase detection of those athletes with potentially lethal cardiovascular disorders at risk for sudden cardiac death. However, complex issues regarding feasibility, false positive results, cost-effectiveness, and physician and health system infrastructure still remain regarding large-scale implementation of ECG screening in the United States. When used, ECG interpretations based on modern criteria to distinguish abnormal findings from physiologic alterations in athletes must be applied to ensure acceptable accuracy.

1Department of Family Medicine, Sports Medicine Fellowship, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; 2Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI; 3Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Sibley Heart Center, Atlanta, GA

Address for correspondence: Jonathan Drezner, M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, Associate Director, Sports Medicine Fellowship, Team Physician, Seattle Seahawks and University of Washington Huskies, University of Washington, Box 354410, Seattle, WA 98195 (E-mail:

Copyright © 2010 by the American College of Sports Medicine.