Sports and Exercise Cardiology

Over the years, sports medicine has expanded to include not only competitive athletes but also anyone who exercises (amateur or professionals). Although sports can confer heroic fitness to athletes, there is a risk of sports-related sudden cardiac death. The societal and media response to such tragic deaths by an athlete garners negative publicity, although the general benefits of exercise outweigh the risk. Commonly, sudden cardiac death is triggered by a malignant tachyarrhythmia such as ventricular fibrillation (VF) or ventricular tachycardia degenerating into VF. There is typically an underlying substrate for arrhythmia trigger, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, channelopathies, arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy, or coronary congenital abnormalities, among others.

Sports cardiology has evolved as a subspecialty of cardiology and or sports medicine. In 2011, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) developed the Exercise and Sports Cardiology Section. This section expanded from 150 to more than 4,000 members within a 2-year span. The European Society of Cardiology has also integrated sports cardiology within the section of preventive and rehabilitation cardiology since 2005.

 

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