Study finds no benefit in routine ECG screening for young athletes

Routine ECG screening for young athletes doesn’t save lives, according to a new study by Maron et al published online in the American Journal of Cardiology.

Barry Maron and colleagues compared cardiovascular-related mortality rates in athletes from the Veneto region in Italy, where 12 lead ECGs have been utilized in athletic screening programs for 25 years, to rates in Minnesota, where screening consists only of a history and physical exam. The two areas have similar demographics.

Current American Heart Association guidelines, which do not recommend routine ECG screening, have been criticized by some in favor of the Italian model, saying that the less rigorous screening “may be responsible for an excess of cardiovascular deaths in athletes,” according to the authors.

Overall, however, there were no significant differences in the rate of sudden death between the two populations. The authors concluded “that sudden cardiac death in young trained athletes is a tragic but ultimately low event-rate phenomenon, unlikely to be extinguished by preparticipation screening regardless of the particular strategy used.”

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  1. […] Study finds no benefit in routine ECG screening for young athletes (May 29, 2009) […]

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