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Sudden cardiac death athletes: a systematic review

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      Abstract

      Previous events evidence that sudden cardiac death (SCD) in athletes is still a reality and it keeps challenging cardiologists. Considering the importance of SCD in athletes and the requisite for an update of this matter, we endeavored to describe SCD in athletes. The Medline (via PubMed) and SciELO databases were searched using the subject keywords "sudden death, athletes and mortality". The incidence of SCD is expected at one case for each 200,000 young athletes per year. Overall it is resulted of complex dealings of factors such as arrhythmogenic substrate, regulator and triggers factors. In great part of deaths caused by heart disease in athletes younger than 35 years old investigations evidence cardiac congenital abnormalities. Athletes above 35 years old possibly die due to impairments of coronary heart disease, frequently caused by atherosclerosis. Myocardial ischemia and myocardial infarction are responsible for the most cases of SCD above this age (80%). Pre-participatory athletes' evaluation helps to recognize situations that may put the athlete's life in risk including cardiovascular diseases. In summary, cardiologic examinations of athletes' pre-competition routine is an important way to minimize the risk of SCD.

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      Most cited references 58

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      Trends in sudden cardiovascular death in young competitive athletes after implementation of a preparticipation screening program.

      A nationwide systematic preparticipation athletic screening was introduced in Italy in 1982. The impact of such a program on prevention of sudden cardiovascular death in the athlete remains to be determined. To analyze trends in incidence rates and cardiovascular causes of sudden death in young competitive athletes in relation to preparticipation screening. A population-based study of trends in sudden cardiovascular death in athletic and nonathletic populations aged 12 to 35 years in the Veneto region of Italy between 1979 and 2004. A parallel study examined trends in cardiovascular causes of disqualification from competitive sports in 42,386 athletes undergoing preparticipation screening at the Center for Sports Medicine in Padua (22,312 in the early screening period [1982-1992] and 20,074 in the late screening period [1993-2004]). Incidence trends of total cardiovascular and cause-specific sudden death in screened athletes and unscreened nonathletes of the same age range over a 26-year period. During the study period, 55 sudden cardiovascular deaths occurred in screened athletes (1.9 deaths/100,000 person-years) and 265 sudden deaths in unscreened nonathletes (0.79 deaths/100,000 person-years). The annual incidence of sudden cardiovascular death in athletes decreased by 89% (from 3.6/100,000 person-years in 1979-1980 to 0.4/100,000 person-years in 2003-2004; P for trend < .001), whereas the incidence of sudden death among the unscreened nonathletic population did not change significantly. The mortality decline started after mandatory screening was implemented and persisted to the late screening period. Compared with the prescreening period (1979-1981), the relative risk of sudden cardiovascular death in athletes was 0.56 in the early screening period (95% CI, 0.29-1.15; P = .04) and 0.21 in the late screening period (95% CI, 0.09-0.48; P = .001). Most of the reduced mortality was due to fewer cases of sudden death from cardiomyopathies (from 1.50/100,000 person-years in the prescreening period to 0.15/100,000 person-years in the late screening period; P for trend = .002). During the study period, 879 athletes (2.0%) were disqualified from competition due to cardiovascular causes at the Center for Sports Medicine: 455 (2.0%) in the early screening period and 424 (2.1%) in the late screening period. The proportion of athletes who were disqualified for cardiomyopathies increased from 20 (4.4%) of 455 in the early screening period to 40 (9.4%) of 424 in the late screening period (P = .005). The incidence of sudden cardiovascular death in young competitive athletes has substantially declined in the Veneto region of Italy since the introduction of a nationwide systematic screening. Mortality reduction was predominantly due to a lower incidence of sudden death from cardiomyopathies that paralleled the increasing identification of athletes with cardiomyopathies at preparticipation screening.
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        Does sports activity enhance the risk of sudden death in adolescents and young adults?

        We sought to assess the risk of sudden death (SD) in both male and female athletes age 12 to 35 years. Little is known about the risk of SD in adolescents and young adults engaged in sports. We did a 21-year prospective cohort study of all young people of the Veneto Region of Italy. From 1979 to 1999, the total population of adolescents and young adults averaged 1,386,600 (692,100 males and 694,500 females), of which 112,790 (90,690 males and 22,100 females) were competitive athletes. An analysis by gender of risk of SD and underlying pathologic substrates was performed in the athletic and non-athletic populations. There were 300 cases of SD, producing an overall cohort incidence rate of 1 in 100,000 persons per year. Fifty-five SDs occurred among athletes (2.3 in 100,000 per year) and 245 among non-athletes (0.9 in 100,000 per year), with an estimated relative risk (RR) of 2.5 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.8 to 3.4; p < 0.0001). The RR of SD among athletes versus non-athletes was 1.95 (CI 1.3 to 2.6; p = 0.0001) for males and 2.00 (CI 0.6 to 4.9; p = 0.15) for females. The higher risk of SD in athletes was strongly related to underlying cardiovascular diseases such as congenital coronary artery anomaly (RR 79, CI 10 to 3,564; p < 0.0001), arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (RR 5.4, CI 2.5 to 11.2; p < 0.0001), and premature coronary artery disease (RR 2.6, CI 1.2 to 5.1; p = 0.008). Sports activity in adolescents and young adults was associated with an increased risk of SD, both in males and females. Sports, per se, was not a cause of the enhanced mortality, but it triggered SD in those athletes who were affected by cardiovascular conditions predisposing to life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias during physical exercise.
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          Triggering of sudden death from cardiac causes by vigorous exertion.

          Retrospective and cross-sectional data suggest that vigorous exertion can trigger cardiac arrest or sudden death and that habitual exercise may diminish this risk. However, the role of physical activity in precipitating or preventing sudden death has not been assessed prospectively in a large number of subjects. We used a prospective, nested case-crossover design within the Physicians' Health Study to compare the risk of sudden death during and up to 30 minutes after an episode of vigorous exertion with that during periods of lighter exertion or none. We then evaluated whether habitual vigorous exercise modified the risk of sudden death that was associated with vigorous exertion. In addition, the relation of vigorous exercise to the overall risk of sudden death and nonsudden death from coronary heart disease was assessed. During 12 years of follow-up, 122 sudden deaths were confirmed among the 21,481 male physicians who were initially free of self-reported cardiovascular disease and who provided information on their habitual level of exercise at base line. The relative risk of-sudden death during and up to 30 minutes after vigorous exertion was 16.9 (95 percent confidence interval, 10.5 to 27.0; P<0.001). However, the absolute risk of sudden death during any particular episode of vigorous exertion was extremely low (1 sudden death per 1.51 million episodes of exertion). Habitual vigorous exercise attenuated the relative risk of sudden death that was associated with an episode of vigorous exertion (P value for trend=0.006). The base-line level of exercise was not associated with the overall risk of subsequent sudden death. These prospective data from a study of U.S. male physicians suggest that habitual vigorous exercise diminishes the risk of sudden death during vigorous exertion.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Departamento de Clínica Médica, Disciplina de Cardiologia, Núcleo de Saúde no Esporte, Faculdade de Medicina do ABC, Santo André, SP, Brasil
            [2 ]Departamento de Morfologia e Fisiologia, Faculdade de Medicina do ABC, Santo André, SP, Brasil
            [3 ]Departamento de Medicina, Disciplina de Cardiologia, Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP), São Paulo, SP, Brasil
            [4 ]Departamento de Fisioterapia, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Campus de Presidente Prudente, Presidente Prudente, SP, Brasil
            [5 ]Departamento de Educação Física e Motricidade Humana, Universidade Federal de São Carlos, São Carlos, SP, Brasil
            Contributors
            Journal
            Sports Med Arthrosc Rehabil Ther Technol
            Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy, Rehabilitation, Therapy & Technology: SMARTT
            BioMed Central
            1758-2555
            2010
            3 August 2010
            : 2
            : 19
            2923123
            1758-2555-2-19
            20682064
            10.1186/1758-2555-2-19
            Copyright ©2010 Ferreira et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

            Categories
            Review

            Sports medicine

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