Answers to Athletes and Sudden Cardiac Arrest

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

Who is the most appropriate person to read EKG results for high school athletes? Collegiate athletes? Younger children?

Dr. Jeffrey James discusses who should read EKG results for high school and college athletes. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.


The EKGs are tricky because of who is qualified to interpret them and the differences between the different populations. For example, an EKG can be normal in a lot of instances in younger populations just because some of the pathologies don't seem to appear until age 18 or 20. So that's where it becomes tricky. By adding the electrocardiograms to screenings, we may get a normal result in a 12- or 14-, or even 16-year-old. Then as they get a little bit older, the results may turn abnormal. That's when we really worry about these pathologies popping up.

The other issue is that if you're not familiar with the electrocardiographic changes or electrical changes in the heart and the structural changes that happen with athletes, the EKG results can be seen as abnormal. But in reality they reflect normal physiologic changes or electric changes that happen in the heart. That can lead to a lot of false positives and that can cause a lot of extra time lost in their athletics. This can also cause emotional issues for the athlete and his or her family, just because they're out of their athletics. They're worried about heart disease and obviously the extra money it would take to go see a specialist or get extra testing that may turn out to be normal.

Learn more:

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