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Vital Signs and Demographics in the Preparticipation Sports Exam: Do They Help Us Find the Elusive Athlete at Risk for Sudden Cardiac Death?

Sealy, David P.1; Pekarek, Lesslie2; Russ, David3; Sealy, Clark3; Goforth, Gary4

doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e3182014ed6
Competitive Sports and Pain Management: Section Articles

Much attention recently has been paid to the detection of those young athletes who may be at risk for sudden cardiac death (SCD) in sports participation. In this article, we attempt to summarize the remarkably few studies that examine the question of whether vital signs and basic demographics are associated with athletes at risk for SCD. Historical items such as chest pain, dyspnea, and palpitations are not reviewed. The only demographics mentioned in the literature as associated with SCD are being of the male gender, which is associated highly with SCD, and being African-American. Most notably, we were unable to find even prospective data asking the question of whether resting pulse, blood pressure, height, weight, and age are potential risk factors. Therefore, we also have included recent data from our own research to make this summary more complete.

1Principle Investigator, Director, Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship, Self Regional Healthcare, Greenwood, SC; 2Montgomery Center for Family Medicine, Greenwood, SC; 3Self Regional Healthcare, Greenwood, SC; 4Residency Director, Montgomery Center for Family Medicine, Greenwood, SC

Address for correspondence: David P. Sealy, M.D., Director, Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship, Self Regional Healthcare, 155 Academy Ave, Greenwood, SC 29646 (E-mail:

© 2010 American College of Sports Medicine