Abstract 18424: Cardiovascular Death in Student-Athletes and in the General Population: Are Trained Athletes Really at Higher Risk?
Background: Sudden death due to cardiovascular (CV) disease in competitive athletes has become a highly visible concern in the physician and lay communities. Previous studies have reported mortality rates from CV disease in young athletes as 2 to >4/100,000 person-years. However, while CV death rates are believed to be increased for competitive athletes, they have not been placed in the context of normal CV mortality within the general U.S. population.
Methods: Using 2002 to 2006 cause of death (COD) data from CDC Division of Vital Statistics and population data from U.S. Census Bureau, CV-associated death rates were calculated by gender for populations ages 15-19 and 20-24 years. Comparisons were made to mortality rates obtained for high school athletes in Minnesota and U.S. college athletes.
Results: Within the general population, CV death rates were 1.9 and 3.5/100,000 person-years for ages 15-19 and 20-24, respectively. When compared to death rates of 0.7/100,000 athlete-years in competitive high school athletes, the rate of CV death in the general population is 2.7 fold higher. Similarly, when compared to the reported death rate of 2.3/100,000 athlete-years, in NCAA athletes the rate of CV death in the general population is 1.5-fold higher. General population CV death rates were 1.9-fold higher for males compared to females in both age groups, and similar to competitive athletes for which male deaths predominate 9:1 (Table). Within the general population, African-American males and females, ages 15-19, had CV death rates 2-fold higher than their white counterparts, and for ages 20-24, African-American men/women had rates 2.3 and 2.7-fold higher than white counterparts, respectively.
Conclusion: Although high school and college student-athletes are believed to be at increased risk for CV death, comparisons to the general population of similar age suggest otherwise with competitive athletes actually less likely to experience fatal CV events.
- © 2013 by American Heart Association, Inc.