New Advisory OKs Some Athletes With Heart Conditions to Play
(HealthDay News) — Some athletes with irregular heartbeat caused by long QT syndrome and athletes with long QT syndrome who have implanted pacemakers or defibrillators may be able to play competitive sports, according to new guidelines published online Nov. 2 in Circulation and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
The scientific statement from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology pointed out that recent research indicates the risk of sudden cardiac arrest is lower than previously thought for some athletes with irregular heartbeat caused by long QT syndrome and athletes with long QT syndrome who have implanted pacemakers or defibrillators. The new statement applies only to athletes with long QT syndrome who play competitive sports directed by a coach, including baseball, football, and basketball. It doesn't apply to people who occasionally play sports for exercise or fun.
In a news release from the American Heart Association, Barry Maron, M.D., co-chair of the writing committee and director of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, said that the recommendations are not mandates and are not intended to make "the general medical (and legal) standard of care applicable to all competitive athletes." He added that "it should be noted that the guidance for patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy has not changed. We still recommend avoiding intense competitive sports for people who have this condition."
Statement writing group co-chairman Douglas Zipes, M.D., said in the news release that "the ultimate incentive is to prevent sudden cardiac death in the young, although it is also important not to unfairly or unnecessarily remove individuals from a healthy athletic lifestyle." Zipes is a professor and director of the cardiology division of the Krannert Institute of Cardiology at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis.