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Sudden death in young athletes: Important causes not identified by the screening process
Date:3/10/2013

Even though young athletes are required to receive health screens to be cleared to play sports, those tests failed to detect important cardiovascular abnormalities in cleared players, and many were allowed to play despite suspicions of dangerous cardiovascular conditions, according to a large registry study of patients who died from sudden death, being presented March 10 by Kevin Harris, MD, research cardiologist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation (MHIF). The data is being presented at the annual American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions in San Francisco.

Aortic stenosis, which occurs when the aortic heart valve does not fully open, is considered a rare, but important, cause of death in young people. Aortic dissection and rupture which occur when the aortic wall tears and ruptures respectively are catastrophic conditions that are not usually associated with the death of younger individuals. However, the role of these very serious conditions is not understood as causes of athletic field deaths and their identification by routine pre-participation screening.

"While the majority of these young athletes are being screened, there is unfortunately great variability in the screening process, and we have had very sparse data on the effectiveness of these screening efforts," explains Harris, who is also co-director of the Acute Aortic Dissection Program and director of the echocardiography laboratory at the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

The American Heart Association has recommended specific historical questions and physical examination components which should comprise pre-participation cardiac screening.

For this study, MHIF researchers analyzed the U.S. National Registry of Sudden Death in Young Athletes for occurrences of sudden death due to aortic disease (including dissection, rupture or coarctation) and aortic stenosis.

Of the 2,588 deaths in the regi
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Contact: Steve Goodyear
sgoodyear@mhif.org
612-863-1658
Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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