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Doctors: Cardiac testing recommended for young athletes

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

Though most people associate exercise with healthy hearts, doctors find that athletes with extraordinarily high levels of fitness are more susceptible to a deadly heart condition.

In an article appearing in the September 7 edition of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, British and Dutch cardiologists discussed a condition known as sudden cardiac death (SCD), Time News reports. SCD, which is known to have killed star athletes like Reggie Lewis and Marc Vivien Foe, usually occurs with little or no warning, and almost always during or shortly after heavy physical activity.

In their article, the doctors concluded that all athletes under 35-years-old should routinely test for irregularities in heart function using an electrocardiogram (ECG). The researchers cite a study of 42,000 athletes in Italy which spanned from 1979 to 2004. Italian scientists found that during this time period ECG tests resulted in an almost 90 percent drop in SCD, while sudden cardiac deaths in the untested population did not dramatically change.

According to Time News reports, some scientists believe that this type of cardiac testing will lead to an over-diagnosis of the condition, and high costs.

The American Heart Association estimates that 294,851 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the U.S. each year.

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