Athletes with a genetic heart disease are often disqualified from participating in competitive sports because of the perceived risk of sudden cardiac arrest. While the clinicians' intent may be understandable, is it necessarily the best approach?
Mayo Clinic researchers conducted a review of athletes who were treated at Mayo during a 20-year period, and their findings published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggest that after the patient’s condition has been properly evaluated and treated, an athlete’s safe return to play is feasible, even with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD).
"Although the risk of a disease-triggered breakthrough cardiac event is not zero, the data in our study finds that athletes with ICDs may safely participate in higher-intensity sports with minimal risk of damage to the device during competition or other adverse events," says Michael Ackerman, M.D., Ph.D., a genetic cardiologist at Mayo Clinic and the article's senior author. "Before this can occur, however, the athlete must undergo a full clinical evaluation with a thorough understanding of potential risks and a treatment plan that’s well-understood and adhered to."
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