How Sports Cardiology Can Help Athletes Stay in Top Condition
A sports cardiologist can help prevent and treat cardiovascular conditions that athletes often face.
Whether you’re a professional athlete or a dedicated fitness buff, your heart health is vital to achieve peak performance. Fortunately, a medical specialty called sports cardiology has emerged to monitor and treat the hearts of athletes and other active individuals.
A competitive athlete’s high performance level means it’s essential to routinely check for any cardiac abnormalities. Most often, patients will visit a sports cardiologist after experiencing cardiovascular symptoms like heart palpitations, shortness of breath, fainting, or a sudden dropoff in performance ability. However, athletes with pre-existing heart conditions or a family history of heart disease may benefit from more frequent check-ups.
A detailed cardiac screening can help uncover the reason behind various cardiovascular symptoms so you can get the treatment you need to get back in the game. Testing also spots any potential heart issues that could develop into a more serious disorder if left untreated. With appropriate therapy, you’ll likely be able to return to your favorite sport without missing a beat.
Common Heart Conditions
The most common cardiovascular ailment among athletes is hypertension, or high blood pressure. Stage I hypertension — a baseline reading of 130/80 — doesn’t restrict an athlete from participating in sports. However, athletes diagnosed with Stage 2 (140/90) hypertension may be prohibited from weightlifting or martial arts until the condition is managed by medication. Untreated Stage 2 hypertension in athletes may lead to long-term heart damage.
Among older athletes, coronary artery disease is common. Similar to the general population, athletes may have congenital or inherited cardiac disorders, including hypertrophy, or thickening, of the left heart ventricle, or cardiac valve abnormalities. In addition, serious athletes may be prone to cardiac hypertrophy because of their strenuous workout routines.
These cardiovascular conditions can be uncovered with a series of tests, starting with an electrocardiogram (EKG). This test measures the electrical activity in the upper right chamber of the heart to identify any irregularities. You may also undergo a stress test, or an EKG taken while you walk or jog on a treadmill.
Other heart exams include an echocardiogram that uses ultrasound waves to get a snapshot of the heart structure. Similarly, a cardiac MRI provides a detailed image of the heart muscles and aorta. To further analyze your cardiac function, you can wear a heart monitor during the day to record your heart rate.
Heart Health for Athletes
At Premier Heart & Vein Care, we work with athletes to ensure you can enjoy your favorite sports and activities for many years to come. We’ll review your risk factors, diagnose any symptoms, and treat the cardiac issues you may be experiencing. Our goal is to help you get back in the game as soon as possible — or help you vault to even greater athletic performance. Contact us today to learn more about our sports cardiology services.