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Screening Athletes Could Prevent Sudden Cardiac Death

One study finds 11 percent false-positive rate in screening young athletes for heart problems

FRIDAY, Sept. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Athletes should undergo routine screening for heart abnormalities, as the practice would help prevent sudden death, according to two articles published in the September issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, a special issue in partnership with the International Olympic Committee dedicated to elite sports injury prevention.

Bram Bessem, M.D., and colleagues at the University Medical Centre Groningen in the Netherlands, analyzed the results of 428 cardiovascular screenings of athletes and found that, while 371 (87 percent) had a negative screening, further rounds of screening identified three athletes (0.7 percent) who were subsequently restricted from sports participation. Forty-seven athletes (11 percent) had a false-positive result.

Michael Papadakis and Sanjay Sharma, M.D., of King's College Hospital in London, reviewed the evidence relating to the efficacy, impact and cost-effectiveness of pre-participation cardiovascular screening in athletes age 35 years and younger and concluded that the argument for implementation of such screening for all young competitive athletes was compelling.

"The European recommendations have been endorsed by the International Olympic Committee and the football governing bodies, with the Union of European Football Associations advocating mandatory screening of all players participating in European championships," Papadakis and Sharma write. "Health care governing bodies need to be convinced that now is the time for universal electrocardiogram screening of all young athletes and make the necessary provisions for nationwide screening programs to commence."

Research by Papadakis is funded by Cardiac Risk in the Young, a charity advocating pre-participation screening for young athletes, and Sharma is a consultant cardiologist to the charity.

Abstract - Bessem
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