(HealthDay News) – Athletes with implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) can safely participate in competitive sports, according to a study published in the May 21 issue of Circulation.

Rachel Lampert, MD, from Yale University in New Haven, CT, and colleagues recruited athletes with ICDs (median age, 33 years; 33% female) participating in organized or high-risk sports (328 and 44 athletes, respectively). Phone interviews and medical records were used to ascertain sports-related and clinical data. Electrophysiologists adjudicated ICD shock data and clinical outcomes.

The researchers found that pre-ICD ventricular arrhythmia was present in 42% of participants. The most common sports were running, basketball, and soccer. There were no occurrences of either death/resuscitated arrest or arrhythmia-/shock-related injury during sports participation over a median of 31 months of follow-up. During competition/practice there were 49 shocks in 37 participants (10%); 39 shocks occurred in 29 participants (8%) during other physical activity; and at rest, 33 shocks occurred in 24 participants (6%). Multiple shocks were received in eight device-defined ventricular arrhythmia episodes: one at rest, four during competition/practice, and three during other physical activity. All episodes were resolved with the ICD. At five years from implantation, 97% had freedom from lead malfunction; at 10 years, 90% had freedom from lead malfunction.

“Many athletes with ICDs can engage in vigorous and competitive sports without physical injury or failure to terminate the arrhythmia despite the occurrence of both inappropriate and appropriate shocks,” Lampert and colleagues conclude.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical and medical device companies, including Boston Scientific, Medtronic, and St. Jude Medical, all of which funded the study.

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