News | ECG | December 08, 2017

ECG Study of NBA Players Shows Need for Sport-Specific Normative Data and Guidelines

Results indicate that current International Criteria find higher rate of false-positive results among NBA athletes

ECG Study of NBA Players Shows Need for Sport-Specific Normative Data and Guidelines

December 8, 2017 — Cardiologists at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center compared electrocardiographic findings among National Basketball Association (NBA) athletes with other published athlete groups in a new study. The study builds on prior research that established the first large-scale normative cardiac dataset for basketball players (and athletes of similar size as elite basketball players). Results from the new study demonstrated the criteria used to identify athletes at risk for exercise-triggered sudden cardiac death, known as the International Criteria, find a higher rate of false-positive results among NBA athletes. The results indicate a need for additional sport-specific guidelines to differentiate expected cardiac changes from abnormalities.

The findings were published on Dec. 6 in JAMA Cardiology.

“Elite basketball players, like other elite athletes, are known to develop heart muscle changes over time related to intensive athletic training,” said David J. Engel, M.D., a sports cardiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, associate professor of medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the study’s senior author. “But, there has not previously been a study that specifically analyzes ECG changes in this athlete group."

In the current study, researchers analyzed the pre-season electrocardiograms (ECGs) of 519 NBA players from the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons to test the accuracy of the ECG guidelines (International Criteria) in elite basketball players. Among the sampled players, ECG results as identified by the International Criteria as abnormal were more common in older subjects and in those who demonstrated increased thickening of the left ventricular wall relative to their overall heart size. Athlete body size and race/ethnicity were not associated with the prevalence of abnormal ECGs.

“This data may help us continue to enhance player health and safety by distinguishing expected changes in a basketball player’s heart from underlying cardiac conditions,” said Engel. “The current ECG criteria cannot encapsulate how the wide variation in physiologic demands of different sports, and the varied baseline characteristics of athletes engaged in different sports, create varied changes in athletes' ECGs. We still have more work to do to determine if more specific criteria for evaluating ECG data in different sports is needed.”

The authors report no financial or other conflicts of interest.  This work was supported by the National Basketball Association (NBA) as part of a medical services agreement between the NBA and Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

For more information: www.jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology

Related Content

79-year-old Tony Marovic had a right carotid endarterectomy shortly after discovering a 95 percent blockage of his carotid artery at a health and wellness screening event

79-year-old Tony Marovic had a right carotid endarterectomy shortly after discovering a 95 percent blockage of his carotid artery at a health and wellness screening event. Image courtesy of University Hospitals.

News | Cardiac Diagnostics | October 16, 2019
Health and wellness screenings are more than just nice events for the community – they can save lives. A Mentor, Ohio,...
Pesticide Exposure May Increase Heart Disease and Stroke Risk

Image courtesy of zefe wu from Pixabay

News | Cardiac Diagnostics | October 15, 2019
On-the-job exposure to high levels of pesticides raised the risk of heart disease and stroke in a generally healthy...
World Heart Federation Launches Global Roadmap on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Among Diabetics
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | September 04, 2019
At the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress 2019 together with the World Congress of Cardiology, the World...
Insomnia Tied to Higher Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke

Image courtesy of the American Heart Association

News | Cardiac Diagnostics | August 19, 2019
People suffering from insomnia may have an increased risk of coronary artery disease, heart failure and stroke,...
Evolutionary Gene Loss May Help Explain Human Predisposition to Heart Attacks
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | July 29, 2019
The loss of a single gene two to three million years ago in our ancestors may have resulted in a heightened risk of...
U.S. Soldiers Have Worse Heart Health Than Civilians
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | June 06, 2019
Active duty Army personnel have worse cardiovascular health compared to people of similar ages in the civilian...
Late Dinner and No Breakfast Worsens Outcomes After Heart Attack
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | May 23, 2019
People who skip breakfast and eat dinner near bedtime have worse outcomes after a heart attack, according to research...
HRS Releases New Expert Consensus Statement on Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathy
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | May 14, 2019
The Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) released a first-of-its-kind consensus statement with guidance on the evaluation and...
New Best Practices Help Manage Heart Attack Patients Without Significant Signs
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | April 15, 2019
For the first time in the United States, doctors with the American Heart Association (AHA) have outlined best practices...
Overlay Init