Cardiovascular Care in Athletes

Cardiovascular Care in Athletes … Pulsingforward

Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) remains a leading cause of mortality in athletes during sport participation. A position statement by the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) released at the end of 2016 and endorsed by 16 major international sports medicine and two cardiology societies (including SASMA) is regarded as a major step forward in the cardiovascular care of the athlete.

South African sports physicians and cardiologists involved in the pre-participation evaluation (PPE) of athletes are also amongst those facing the challenges of different guidelines and recommendations and therefore SASMA leadership invited a group of local sports physicians to evaluate the statement with the view of endorsement within the South African context.

The statement was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine and co-published in the European Heart Journal as well as the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. It can be viewed at (go to AMSSM Publications and Statements). The SASMA group was in particular in consensus thatcardiovascular screening should be included in a PPE and that acquiring expertise in the modern interpretation of the ECG in athletes holds great benefit for the detection of cardiac conditions with potential risk of Sudden Cardiac Arrest or Death (SCA/D) and the decrease of false positive rates reported with ECG interpretations.

Indeed cost is a critical challenge and acknowledged in the South African context, therefore mandatory inclusion of ECG in routine PPE is not practical and might lead to fever athletes screened. Round table discussions within SASMA and guidelines to federations, associations and schools involved in sport participation as an outcome should be targeted for 2017. The different regions can play a major role in starting this process leading up to a discussion at the SASMA Congress later this year.

The #SASMA2017 lineup includes a Sports Cardiology symposium on 26 October featuring Dr Leigh Gordon, Dr Adie Horak, Prof Bongani Mayosi, Prof Efraim Kramer. Expect a dynamic discussion and latest updates on PHE screening, sudden cardica death, and the discovery of the ARVC gene.