Answers to Athletes and Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Premier Health providers and athletic trainers answer frequently asked questions about sudden cardiac arrest.

How frequently should a cardiac screen be done? How frequently should advanced cardiac testing be done?

Dr. Sean Convery discusses how frequently cardiac screenings and advanced cardiac testing should be done for high school and college athletes. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

What we like to see is a physical examination once a year while the athletes are younger, from high school down. In college, we do them every two years. The advanced or the more sophisticated cardiac screen, which would be an electrocardiogram (EKG), is now recommended just once, but we're trending toward doing it twice in high school, every two years, and once in college. I see that changing to every two years in college as well.

The reason is that the cardiac system in young athletes develops and changes over time and some of the conditions that exist that could pose a risk to their life may not be fully functional in those athletes until they're older.

So a kid with a normal EKG as a freshman in high school may have an abnormal EKG as a junior in college. The exact time frame or recommended interval for EKG testing is not yet agreed upon. Right now I think most people would agree that in high school a physical examination with a history should be done every year. An EKG should probably be done at least once, maybe every two years in high school. In college, physicals should be done every two years with an EKG done at least once – probably twice while in college.

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Chelsea L. Gilliam, APRN-CNP, AGACNP-BC

Piqua Family Practice

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Source: Michael W. Barrow, MD, Samaritan North Family Physicians; American Heart Association; National Institutes of Health; Nik Berger, MS, AT, ATC, Premier Health Sports Medicine – Miami Valley Hospital South; Jeffrey James, DO, Premier Orthopedics; Sean Convery, MD, Premier Orthopedics; Jeffrey Rayborn, MD, Premier Orthopedics