Cardiovascular Screening in Young Athletes: Evidence for the Electrocardiogram

Academic Article


  • The objective of this study is to review the evidence for cardiovascular screening inclusive of an electrocardiogram (ECG) in young athletes. Sudden cardiac death (SCD) in athletes is the leading cause of death during exercise and occurs at a rate that is substantially higher than initially recognized. There is widespread agreement that cardiovascular screening should be performed prior to athletic competition. The primary purpose of preparticipation cardiovascular screening is to identify athletes with conditions that predispose them to SCD. Unfortunately, the traditional model in the United States of a medical history and a physical examination has limited sensitivity to detect cardiovascular disease and provides false reassurance to athletes, parents, and team officials. The addition of an ECG enhances the ability to identify disease, and modern athlete-specific ECG interpretation standards used by experienced physicians provide low false-positive rates, improving the cost-effectiveness while preserving sensitivity. The evidence is clear that if athletes are screened, ECG-inclusive strategies are most likely to meet the primary aim of preparticipation cardiovascular screening. These advanced protocols have the potential to improve health and safety during sport events and should be considered the best practice in high-risk athletes when the sports cardiology infrastructure and oversight are readily available.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Asif IM; Drezner JA
  • Start Page

  • 76
  • End Page

  • 80
  • Volume

  • 15
  • Issue

  • 2