(HealthDay News) – The prognostic value of using cardiac imaging to screen healthy athletes is uncertain, according to research published in the Sept. 1 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Imaging.

Andre La Gerche, MD, PhD, of the University of Melbourne in Australia, and colleagues reviewed the literature on the use of multimodality cardiac imaging to identify athletes at risk for sudden cardiac death.

According to the researchers, current evidence suggests that the accuracy of cardiac imaging is inadequate for primary screening of athletes prior to participation in sports to assess risk of sudden cardiac death. Although various modalities of cardiac imaging often identify atypical findings in well-trained athletes, such as marked cardiac dilation, reduced deformation, or small patches of delayed gadolinium enhancement, the prognostic value of these results has not been established. Uncertain test results in asymptomatic athletes may cause psychological stress, further testing, and unnecessary exclusion from competition.

“We do not believe that cardiac imaging can be recommended as a first-line screening tool,” the authors write. “Rather, patient specific investigations should be focused on evaluating those athletes in whom clinical suspicion is raised by symptoms, family history, clinical exam and/or abnormalities on electrocardiogram.”

Two authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical and/or biomedical companies.

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