Posts Tagged ‘Sudden cardiac death’

Cardiac Screening in High School and College Aged Athletes

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Beth Druvenga
M.S. Ed, LAT, ATC

Posted March 3, 2017

By Beth Druvenga, M.S. Ed, LAT, ATC

The inherent risk of injury when participating in some form of competitive athletics is widely accepted. Athletes suffer sprains, strains, concussions, fractures, contusions and lacerations to name a few injuries. A risk not so widely accepted is the risk of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) or sudden cardiac death (SCD).

We have all seen the stories on the news or read the articles: A young athlete gone too soon. Athletes are in shape and generally in good health; they are not supposed to be participating one minute and unresponsive the next. As an empathetic, reasoning and rational culture, we cannot accept young lives being taken unexpectedly during athletic participation. But, it does happen. As an Athletic Trainer (AT) there is a list of potentially fatal events which may occur every day. I have to take a time out before games to internally review my emergency action plan (EAP), to prepare myself for the worst.

According to a 2011 study by Harmon et al., “SCD is the leading medical cause of death in NCAA athletes, is the leading cause of death during sport and exercise, and occurs at a much higher rate than previously accepted.”1 Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and coronary artery anomalies account for 53 percent of all sudden cardiac deaths.2 Universally, professionals in the cardiac and sports medicine world alike have a common goal of preventing sudden cardiac death in athletes.4

To help prevent SCD, scientists and researchers have encouraged cardiac screening as a tool to detect underlying cardiac disorders and take the necessary steps for prevention. In fact, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association or International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) have made cardiac screening mandatory before competition, and the International Olympic Committee encourages it as best practice.3 However, in the United States, only the National Basketball Association (NBA) mandates electrocardiograms (ECGs) or echocardiography annually.2

In Italy and Israel, it is required as part of a pre-participation examination (PPE) to have a cardiac screening.4 While in the United States a PPE involves a medical questionnaire and physical examination by a healthcare professional.2 And although the American Heart Association (AHA) supports pre-participation cardiovascular screening, it also acknowledges that it is not practical in mass context or nationwide mandate, due to the cost being an estimated 2 billion dollars per annum. Thus, the question remains. How do we move forward?

Until a nationwide, homogenous standard for cardiovascular screening is established for all high school and college aged athletes, take a look at some ways to combat SCA and SCD.

- Review your PPE questionnaire to confirm it includes questions the AHA supports for detection of potential cardiovascular disorders. Verify that these exams are being performed by a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant; someone who is trained and comfortable with detection of cardiovascular problems. According to the AHA, there is an increasing trend of states allowing chiropractors and naturopaths to perform PPE screenings, though they lack the cardiovascular screening training.2

- Review your facility’s EAP with not only your sports medicine staff but with people in the building who will be present when the EAP is put in to action. I am certain there are coaches and administrators who receive their EAPs but fail to read them and are not familiar enough to confidently put them into action.

- Get an automated external defibrillator (AED). I repeat, get an AED! Early defibrillation is essential during SDA to increase the chances of survival. If your school doesn’t have an AED, there are many grants and resources available to assist you in acquiring one.

- Consider providing cardiac screening for your school. There are many companies that perform cardiac screening, so reach out to your community and see what is out there. The most basic cardiac screening consists of a 12-electrode ECG which analyzes resting heart rhythm. This can help detect cardiac anomalies which may require further testing.

You, as an AT, are the best resource. Advocate for your athletes. I know ATs who have lost a student athlete to SCD. My hometown lost a student athlete to SCD during a wrestling tournament a little over a year ago. It all begins with YOU. Do your research to help prevent SCD and protect your athletes. Below are resources for cardiac screening and resources for AED grants, and I urge you to utilize them.

Cardiac Screening Resources

Parent Heart Watch: https://parentheartwatch.org/events/

AED Resources

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation: www.sca-aware.org/school/funding-sources

References

1. Harmon, K., Asif, I., Klossner, D., & Drezner, J. (2011). Incidence of Sudden Cardiac Death in National Collegiate Athletic Association Athletes. Circulation, 1594-1600.

2. Maron, B., Thompson, P., Ackerman, M., Balady, G., Berger, S., Cohen, D., et al. (2007). Recommendations and Considerations Related to Preparticipation Screening for Cardiovascular Abnormalities in Competitive Athletes: 2007 Update. Circulation, 1643-1655.

3. Schmied, C., & Borjesson, M. (2013). Sudden cardiac death in athletes. Journal of Internal Medicine, 93-103.

4. Steinvil, A., Chundadze, T., Zeltser, D., Rogowski, O., Halkin, A., Galily, Y., et al. (2011). Mandatory Electrocardiographic Screening of Athletes to Reduce Their Risk for Sudden Death: Proven Fact or Wishful Thinking? Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 1291-1296.

About the Author

Beth Druvenga is an Athletic Trainer currently living in northern Virginia. She has experience working in both a collegiate and high school setting. Druvenga is originally from Iowa where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Athletic Training from Central College in 2012. She graduated from Old Dominion University in 2014 with a Master of Science in Education. Her professional interests include patient-reported outcomes, psychology of injury and rehabilitation as well as using yoga to increase flexibility.

 

Save

Save

Save

Would ECHO testing during the PPE prevent sudden cardiac death?

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Mike McKenney, MS, ATC

Posted November 2, 2016

By Mike McKenney, MS, ATC

During the pre-participation examination (PPE), many healthcare practitioners employ a traditional cardiac questionnaire and physical examination to detect potential abnormalities and other serious medical conditions that may impact safe participation in sport. However, a physical examination and history are not always sufficient to detect abnormalities of the heart that can result in sudden cardiac death (SCD). More recently, there has been increasing support for broader implementation of electrocardiograph (ECG) testing at all levels of sport. This includes attempts to mandate ECG testing for all high school athletes. Barriers to mandatory ECG testing typically revolve around cost, but there are other factors to consider before requiring this form of screening in an athletic population.

The intended purpose of an ECG is to assess electrical activity of the heart and assist clinicians in determining if a cardiac abnormality is present, whether it be genetic, structural or conductive in nature. However, only 3 percent of cases that result in SCD are of conduction-related causes.1, 2 In young, competitive athletes, structural abnormalities represent the largest percentage of SCD, 84 percent of reported cases,1 which includes conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Simply put, mandating ECG testing in sport may not be the best step forward due to the test’s limitations in screening for the primary causes of SCD.

The difficulty in utilizing ECG to detect structural abnormalities is reflected in a high false-positive rate due to detection of cardiac adaptations regularly found in trained athletes,1, 3 and other variations that are common with normal cardiac rhythm.3Furthermore, ECG lacks the specificity to reliably detect HCM,3 which is a condition that is largely asymptomatic until an SCD event occurs.2 Additionally, results can be interpreted differently between physicians if consistent standards are not being applied.4 Due to the aforementioned factors, athletes are often subject to unnecessary referrals for further screening that often turn out to be of no concern,4 and add further cost to the evaluation process.2

Echocardiograms (ECHO) are the gold standard for visualizing the heart and are what athletes typically receive when referred to a cardiologist for advanced evaluation. Traditionally, the ECHO is performed in a cardiologist’s office. However, with advances in portable ultrasound technology, there is an emerging application for ECHO testing to be conducted by a front-line physician at a school’s sports medicine facility.2 At Northeastern University, a study5 was conducted utilizing this procedure and found that referral to a cardiologist was reduced by 33 percent. There were no differences between measurements obtained by the school’s physician and an outside cardiologist. In addition, research currently in review found the portable ECHO procedure to be significantly quicker than a traditional history and physical or ECG.2 This finding could potentially lead the way to a more thorough and efficient PPE process.

The costs associated with cardiac screening will always be a point of contention, but results of the previously discussed research are going to shift the discussion in a new way. It is not yet known if on-site portable ECHO testing will be a cost saving measure.  However, in theory, a reduction in unnecessary referrals should reduce the overall cost of screening. Moreover, clinicians will have the added benefit of being able to visualize conditions that can result in SCD, instead of trying to infer their presence from electrical activity alone. If we are to continue advocating for access to advanced cardiac screening, future efforts should be focused on methods and services that provide a more efficient and accurate assessment.

Resources

1. Maron BJ, Thompson PD, Ackerman MJ, et al. Recommendations and considerations related to preparticipation screening for cardiovascular abnormalities in competitive athletes: 2007 update: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism: endorsed by the American College of Cardiology Foundation. Circulation. 2007;115(12):1643-1455.

2. Kerkhof D, Gleason C, Basilico F, Corrado G. Is there a role for limited echocardiography during the preparticipation physical examination?. PM & R: The Journal of Injury, Function, And Rehabilitation. March 2016;8(3 Suppl):S36-S44.

3. Maron B, Friedman R, Thompson P, et al. Assessment of the 12-lead ECG as a screening test for detection of cardiovascular disease in healthy general populations of young people (12-25 Years of Age): a scientific statement from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology. Circulation.2014;130(15):1303-1334.

4. Hainline B, Drezner J, Thompson P, et al. Interassociation consensus statement on cardiovascular care of college student-athletes. Journal Of The American College Of Cardiology. 2016;67(25):2981-2995.

5. Yim E, Basilico F, Corrado G. Early screening for cardiovascular abnormalities with preparticipation echocardiography: utility of focused physician-operated echocardiography in preparticipation screening of athletes. Journal Of Ultrasound In Medicine: Official Journal Of The American Institute Of Ultrasound In Medicine.2014;33(2):307-313.

About the Author

Mike McKenney is an Athletic Trainer (AT) at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, where he is the Medical Coordinator for their Division I men’s ice hockey program.  Prior to Northeastern University, he served as an AT in multiple settings including secondary schools, Division I athletics and professional cycling; additionally, he worked as an AT who extends the services of a physician for a large orthopedic group.  He has also provided services for many organizations to include the Boston Marathon, USA Cycling and USA Volleyball.

McKenney is a hydration and electrolyte replacement consultant for the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA.  His professional interests include hydration, electrolyte replacement, thermoregulation in sport and postural restoration.  McKenney completed his athletic training education at Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota and master’s degree at North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota.  His graduate research was published in the February 2015 edition of the Journal of Athletic Training.

 

Save

Save

Consensus Statement on Injury Prevention

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Posted August 11, 2016

Tim Koba, MS, ATC
Twitter: @timkoba
Blog: www.timkoba.blogspot.com.

By Tim Koba, MS, ATC

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recently released a consensus statement on injury prevention geared to the team physician. Their conclusions, however, are beneficial for coaches, athletes, parents, Athletic Trainers (ATs) and other healthcare professionals.

In the statement, the authors focus on ankle, patella femoral syndrome, ACL, shoulder, elbow, head and neck injuries in high school and college athletes. They also touch upon sudden cardiac death, heat illness and skin infections. The article systematically addresses the mechanisms of injury and injury reduction strategies of each injury. I will include a brief summary with action items of the statement and refer those interested to the complete article.

Ankle: Ankle sprains have a high risk of repeat injury and are the most commonly suffered injury in athletics. Key prevention strategies include balance training; neuromuscular training to include jumping, landing and cutting exercises; and technical training. Once an ankle is injured, bracing is an effective way to provide support while the athlete is performing rehabilitation.

ACL: Although not a very common injury, it does account for significant time lost from activity and long term joint health. In high school, the sport with greatest risk of injury is football. In college, it is women’s soccer, with female athletes being at increased risk of injury in general over their male counterparts. Adopting an injury prevention program that addresses strength, core strength, neuromuscular control, cutting, jumping and landing can effectively reduce the risk of injury. Bracing is not an effective means of reducing injury risk.

Patellofemoral pain: Patellofemoral pain is characterized as pain around the front of the knee. Contributing factors include muscle weakness, previous injury, training error and improper movement patterns. Injury prevention techniques include assessing and training for proper jumping and landing form and implementing a structured training program to minimize muscle imbalances with an emphasis on quadriceps, hamstring and hip abductor strengthening.

Shoulder pain: The disabled throwing shoulder is a term to describe pain and dysfunction with overhead sports. Risk factors are muscle imbalances, previous injury and training error. Prevention is focused on following recommended pitch counts, optimizing form for throwing and serving, balancing activity with rest and strengthening the upper body to correct any imbalances in the shoulder, arm and scapula.

Elbow injury: There are no injury prevention programs developed for reducing elbow injury in throwing athletes. The main focus currently is on monitoring fatigue, incorporating adequate rest periods, monitoring total throwing volume to reduce overload, not throwing too many months out of the year and undertaking a general strength program to improve strength and reduce any imbalances.

Sudden cardiac death: Luckily, sudden cardiac death is a rare phenomenon and occurs for several reasons, including genetics. From a prevention standpoint it is important that all athletes have a physical to determine their risk factors and follow-up testing as indicated by their doctors. All athletic sites and sports should have a written and communicated emergency action plan in the event of a catastrophic injury. Access to an AED is essential, and one should be close by to provide care to a fallen individual within 3 minutes of collapse. Chest protectors do not prevent death from sudden impact, also known as commotio cordis, but using a softer ball in youth sports might. It is also not recommended that athletes step in front of a shot due to risk of having a commotio cordis event.

Exertional heat illness: The main risk factors for exertional heat illness are environment, previous injury and some heritable traits such as sickle cell. The main prevention strategy is acclimatization. Ideally, athletes prepare for the environmental conditions that they will be playing in. Coaches can monitor and modify practice and equipment needs depending on the weather. In preparation for weather, athletes can pre-hydrate, stay hydrated during activity and monitor weight loss between practice sessions. Having an emergency action plan in place in case of emergency is essential to management of heat illness.

Skin infections: College wrestling has the greatest incidence of skin infections. Other risk factors include previous skin infection, reduced immune function, body shaving, facility cleanliness and sharing personal care items. Some general rules are important for reducing risk of skin infections and include good hygiene, immediately laundering of uniforms and practice garments, facility cleaning, not sharing equipment or care items and promptly reporting any wounds or lesion to the team AT or your physician.

Conclusion:

While this statement is geared for the team physician, the information is very valuable for those working in athletics to understand and implement.

- Pre-participation physical exams to identify risk factors and assess health history prior to participation.

- Instituting a school wide or at least team wide training program to improve strength, neuromuscular control, balance and technique is an effective means to reduce risk of injury.

- Monitoring athletes to provide adequate recovery and early intervention can delay time lost from competition for musculoskeletal injuries and heat illness.

- Crafting an emergency action plan that is easy to understand and implement, in conjunction with quick access to an AED, can provide the best chances for survival in the event of a catastrophic injury.

Resources

Special Communications. (2016). Selected issues in injury and illness prevention and the team physician: a consensus statement. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 48 (1). http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2016/01000/Selected_Issues_in_Injury_and_Illness_Prevention.21.aspx

About the Author

Tim Koba is an Athletic Trainer, strength coach and sport business professional based in Ithaca, New York. He is passionate about helping others reach their personal and professional potential by researching topics of interest and sharing it with others. He contributes articles on injury prevention, management, rehabilitation, athletic development and leadership.

Save