Sudden Death in Athletes May Sometimes Be Prevented
WebMD News Archive
Because most conditions that cause sudden death are hereditary, Smith says
he relies heavily on an athlete's family history and historical profile.
"You'll find more things with the history than you will with the physical
exam," he tells WebMD.
Even screening isn't an ideal safety net, Smith says. For example, he says,
Italy has a very thorough screening program for its young competitive
"They're a small country," he says. "They've got some
governmental support and some regulation to do those kinds of things. I think
that's what dictates why they have such an extensive screening program. Even
so, with that said, they still have cases of sudden deaths in athletes. ? The
United States is so much larger, and a little less than a fourth of those cases
came out of Italy.
"It goes to show you that even the best screening programs are not going
to be absolute in prevention."
- The major causes of sudden death on the athletic field are concealed, often
very rare, diseases of the heart that are difficult to diagnose.
- A new study shows that athletes who experience chest pains or loss of
consciousness may undergo an echocardiogram to rule out a defect of a coronary
artery, one potential cause of sudden death.
- A family history may be the most useful tool, because most conditions that
cause sudden death are hereditary.