Answers to Athletes and Sudden Cardiac Arrest

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

What would disqualify an athlete from being able to return to athletics?

Dr. Jeffery James discusses why a high school or college athlete would not be able to return to sports after a sudden cardiac event. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.


If an athlete gets an abnormal screen and we're hoping to return them to play, they would have to go through a complete evaluation with a cardiologist and advanced testing. As far as return to play after that, it would depend on what is found on their advanced imaging and screening. If they have one of the underlying conditions, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, it's likely that they could be disqualified from athletics completely. That would again depend on what's found. There are some other heart conditions that will allow an athlete to return to less vigorous athletics. The American Heart Association has guidelines based on what heart conditions are allowed to participate in what athletics, and that would be based on the clearance we would need from the athlete’s cardiologist.

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