News | January 05, 2015

Sudden Cardiac Arrest During Sports: How Can the Risk Be Reduced?

Specialists attend Euro VT/VF Meeting in Berlin to discuss

Sudden cardiac arrest, Euro VT/VF meeting, Ventricular Fibrillation, ECG

Image courtesy of Vital Images

January, 5, 2015 — The issue of sudden cardiac death has long been a concern of heart specialists, for cardiac arrest often hits young, apparently healthy and athletic people out of the blue. Doctors talk about ventricular fibrillation (VF) in these cases, while another heart rhythm disorder involving the chambers of the heart is ventricular tachycardia (VT), in which the ventricles beat regularly, but much too rapidly. Specialists in this field attended the 6th annual Euro VT/VF Meeting in Berlin to share their experiences and discuss new approaches to diagnosis and treatment.

One focus this year was sports and heart arrhythmias. Professor Matthias Antz of Oldenburg, Germany pointed out major differences in the ECG assessment of athletes and non-athletes - a fact not all doctors are aware of that can lead to confusion. Just four hours of training a week is already regarded as competitive sport and that's a level that many amateur sports enthusiasts also reach. Regular intensive training not only leads to a significantly slower heartbeat, but because the heart is strengthened, also to changes in the curves of the electrocardiogram, which can sometimes return to normal during exercise. Many ECGs that appear unusual at first glance are therefore totally normal for athletes, according to Antz, but there are clear warning signs for heart problems that have to be clarified. A thorough ECG examination is therefore important before commencing any intensive training, so that suitable precautionary measures can be taken if necessary, Antz explained.

How successful the widespread introduction of a routine ECG for high-performance athletes can be in the fight against sudden cardiac arrest was demonstrated by Professor Gaetano Thiene of the University of Padua, Italy. Of almost 34,000 athletes who were examined, 621 (1.8%) were ruled out from taking part in competitive sport on the basis of cardiovascular problems identified in an ECG that had not been picked up on in their day-to-day life. Since the 1980s, Italian doctors have thus been able to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death among young sportspeople by almost 90 percent to a figure below the risk faced by the general population.

A wide-ranging all-clear was issued in Berlin for sports enthusiasts with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). Based on the latest findings, the previous general prohibition on intensive sporting activity is generally not justified, declared Carsten Israel, M.D. from Bielefeld, Germany. These patients enjoyed good protection thanks to the device and would therefore not face any increased risk participating in sports such as marathon running or cycling, Israel confirmed. But there were sports that compromised the ICD device or the electrodes running through the veins, and those who wanted to play those sports should seek advice beforehand.

For more information: www.euro-vtvf.eu

Related Content

Health Insurance Expansion Linked to Fewer Sudden Cardiac Arrests
News | Sudden Cardiac Arrest| July 11, 2017
The incidence of sudden cardiac arrest, an often deadly loss of heart function, declined significantly among previously...
European Heart Rhythm Association Launches Cardiac Arrest First Responder App
News | Mobile Devices| June 30, 2017
A novel smartphone application has been developed that can direct first responders to cardiac arrest victims more than...
Cedars-Sinai Team Develops New Sudden Cardiac Arrest Risk Assessment Score
News | Sudden Cardiac Arrest| June 26, 2017
A Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute investigator and his team have developed a new risk assessment tool that brings...
wearable defibrillators prevent sudden cardiac death in pediatric patients
Feature | Sudden Cardiac Arrest| May 11, 2017
May 11, 2017 — A new study shows that the use of a wearable cardioverter defibrillator (WCD) is safe and effective in
AEDs, automated external defibrillators, requirements, U.S. schools, JACC study
News | Defibrillator Monitors| March 30, 2017
Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are associated with increased survival of sudden cardiac arrest when installed...
genetic testing, sudden cardiac death of teen, Mayo Clinic Proceedings
News | Genetic Testing| November 09, 2016
The recent, sudden death of a 13-year-old boy resulted in more than 20 relatives being incorrectly diagnosed as having...
Sponsored Content | Videos | Sudden Cardiac Arrest| October 28, 2016
This video, provided by Zoll, demonstrates how cardiologists can explain sudden cardiac death to patients.
LifePak, AED, sudden cardiac arrest, defibrillator, automatic external defibrillator

A Physio-Control LifePak CR Plus defibrillator shown in use during a hand-off to paramedics, who use larger, more sophisticated defibrillator-monitors (behind gloved paramedic).

Feature | Sudden Cardiac Arrest| September 28, 2016 | Allied Market Research
Automated external defibrillators (AED) are portable and lightweight devices used to deliver an electric shock throug
sudden cardiac arrest, out-of-hospital, comatose patients, University of Arizona study, wake up
News | Sudden Cardiac Arrest| July 13, 2016
Physicians may be drawing conclusions too soon about survival outcomes of patients who suffered a cardiac arrest...
Overlay Init