News | Sudden Cardiac Arrest | March 21, 2016

New Study Evaluates Cardiac Risk of NBA Basketball Players

Research conducted in collaboration with the NBA is helping form a new standard in the detection of cardiac risk among professional basketball athletes

NBA basketball players, cardiac risk, sudden cardiac death, NewYork Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center study, CUMC

March 21, 2016 — Researchers from NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have authored a study that may help understand cardiac risk in National Basketball Association (NBA) players and other athletes.

The study, published Feb. 24 in the inaugural edition of JAMA Cardiology, will help inform prevention strategies for cardiac emergencies for these athletes.

Basketball players have the highest incidence of sports-related sudden cardiac death (SCD) in the United States among all athlete groups. The most common cause of SCD for American athletes is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a condition that results in the thickening of the wall of the left ventricle, forcing the heart to work harder with every beat.

Little has been known about athletic cardiac remodeling in basketball players or athletes of similar size.

“Until now, very little data has been collected to help distinguish expected differences in a basketball player’s heart from underlying abnormal cardiac conditions,” said David J. Engel, M.D., cardiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, associate professor of medicine at CUMC and the study’s lead author.

Researchers analyzed echocardiograms of 526 NBA players for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons in collaboration with the NBA, the NBA Players Association and the NBA Team Physicians Association. They examined athletes’ heart function and structure, including left ventricular size and wall thickness, hypertrophy patterns and function, left atrial volume and aortic root volume.

The study found that the size of the left ventricle, while larger than in normal adults, is proportional to the player’s size. In contrast, the size of the aortic root does not continue to increase proportionally with height. An abnormally large aortic root could indicate a risk of SCD or the presence of Marfan’s syndrome, a genetic condition that can cause enlargement of the aorta. Among the other key conclusions:

  • NBA players with an aortic root size greater than 41mm should be evaluated regardless of their height;
  • Physicians now have a more accurate framework for assessing the risk of SCD in basketball players and other athletes, especially those who play sports that select for height; and
  • A full medical evaluation with complete clinical history should take place before making a conclusive diagnosis.

"This is a considerable leap in the right direction. The results of this study will provide an invaluable frame of reference to enhance player safety for the large group of U.S. basketball players at all skill levels and in the athletic community at large,” said Shunichi Homma, M.D., director of noninvasive cardiac imaging at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, the Margaret Milliken Hatch Professor of Medicine at CUMC, and one of the study’s key researchers. 

“This research presents a significant addition to our ability to assess and identify athletes who may be at risk,” said Allan Schwartz, M.D., chief of the Division of Cardiology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, the Seymour Milstein and Harold Ames Hatch Professor of Medicine at CUMC, and an author on the study. “Our goal is to prevent cardiac emergencies in not just basketball players, but individuals in all athletic disciplines.”

The NBA is making great strides in early detection and prevention of cardiac conditions by requiring each player to have a medical evaluation that includes a stress echocardiogram, standardizing the evaluation method and coordinating the review of the data.

NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia is reviewing these echocardiograms and working with other leading cardiologists, NBA team physicians and the NBA to develop a new standard of cardiac data that will serve as a frame of reference in the evaluation of basketball players and athletes of similar size.

For more information: www.cardiology.jamanetwork.com

Related Content

Livongo Launches Applied Health Signals Product Category
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | November 30, 2018
Healthcare technology company Livongo recently announced the launch of its Applied Health Signals product category,...
HHS Releases Second Edition of Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. #AHA2018 #AHA18
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | November 14, 2018
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines...
ACC and AHA Release Updated Cholesterol Guidelines for 2018. #AHA18 #AHA2018
Feature | Cardiac Diagnostics | November 13, 2018
November 13, 2018 — New cholesterol guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of
AMI READMITS Score Predicts Heart Attack Patients at High Readmission Risk
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | October 09, 2018
Tracking just seven factors of heart attack patients when they are first admitted to the hospital can help flag those...
Siemens Healthineers Showcases New In Vivo and In Vitro Cardiovascular Solutions at TCT 2018
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | September 21, 2018
At the 2018 Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT) conference, Sept. 21-25 in San Diego, Siemens Healthineers...
Weight Loss Drug Does Not Increase Cardiovascular Events
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | August 31, 2018
A weight loss drug does not increase cardiovascular events, according to late breaking results from the CAMELLIA-TIMI...
Acarix Presents CADScor System at ESC 2018
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | August 27, 2018
Acarix AB’s ultra-sensitive acoustic CADScor System for coronary artery disease risk assessment will be on display at...
NIH Ending Funding for Moderate Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health Trial
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | August 24, 2018
The National Institutes of Health announced in June it plans to end funding to the Moderate Alcohol and Cardiovascular...
Study Shows Multiple Benefits of Patient-to-Patient Connectivity in Familial Chylomicronemia Syndrome
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | August 07, 2018
Akcea Therapeutics Inc., an affiliate of Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc., announced the publication of results from the...
Being Overweight May Change Young Adults' Heart Structure, Function
News | Cardiac Diagnostics | August 03, 2018
Even as a young adult, being overweight may cause higher blood pressure and thicken heart muscle, setting the stage for...
Overlay Init