4 years ago

Benign and pathological electrocardiographic changes in athletes.

Machado M, Vaz Silva M
Sudden cardiac death is the leading cause of death in athletes during sport. It is a tragic event that generates significant media attention and discussion throughout society as to whether everything possible had been done to prevent it. Regular physical exercise causes cardiac remodeling at both the mechanical and electrical level, known as athlete's heart, resulting in an electrocardiogram (ECG) considered abnormal compared with the ECGs of the general population. Some of these electrocardiographic changes are considered normal or physiological in athletes, while others suggest underlying cardiac disease with the potential to cause sudden cardiac death. There is thus an urgent need to define the electrocardiographic patterns that allow or prohibit participation in sports, and to differentiate them in terms of gender, ethnicity and age. The purpose of this review is to present the latest data on the electrocardiographic changes considered benign or pathological that are typically found in athletes and to critically analyze the most recent criteria for classifying ECGs in this population (the Seattle criteria), comparing them with previous guidelines and with the latest studies on the subject. This article also examines the question of including ECGs in pre-participation screening programs, the US and European approaches to the subject, and the most up-to-date data on the sensitivity, specificity and cost-effectiveness of the ECG in athletes.

Publisher URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26643438

DOI: PubMed:26643438

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