Abstract 16692: Comparing the Prevalence of ECG Abnormalities Between Young Athletes and Non-athletes: The Implications for a Nationwide Screening Programme
Objectives: Pre-participation screening of competitive athletes has been shown to reduce the incidence sudden cardiac death over a long-term follow up period. Paradoxically, the majority of deaths in the young occur in the non-athletic population, in the absence of antecedent symptoms. In the UK, screening for sinister cardiac disorders is confined to symptomatic individuals or those with familial premature cardiac disease. We evaluated the prevalence of ECG abnormalities in young athletic and non-athletic individuals and its potential implications on a national screening program.
Methods: Between 2006-2010, 7023 non-athletes (mean age 18.9 years ± 5.86 years; 70% male; exercising <6 hours/week; not in regular formal competition) and 3019 athletes (mean age 19.1 years ± 5.01 years; 80% male;competing at regional or national level) were evaluated with health questionnaire, physical examination and ECG. The ECGs were analysed for specific abnormalities as defined by the ESC sports cardiology consensus.
Results: The prevalence of ECG abnormalities amongst non-athletes and athletes are summarised in Table 1. Of the 7023 non-athletes and 3019 athletes, 9.5% and 4.3% respectively demonstrated one or more abnormality on health questionnaire, examination or ECG requiring further cardiac investigation(s).
Conclusions: The study demonstrates a high prevalence of ECG abnormalities, in particular voltage criteria for left ventricular hypertrophy, when applying the ESC sports cardiology consensus criteria to young non-athletic individuals. Many of these abnormalities are non-specific in isolation and may warrant further investigations to exclude quiescent cardiac disease. Such a high burden of ECG abnormalities has significant implications on the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of a national cardiovascular screening program in young individuals and questions the suitability of such guidelines in the non-athletic population.
- © 2010 by American Heart Association, Inc.