Echoes for Athletes

Although relatively rare, sudden cardiac death (SCD) among athletes of any age is devastating. Much has been publicly reported resulting in a push for proper screeningto detect an athlete’s risk.  There are a number of conditions thought to pre-dispose the athlete to a higher risk of SCD, one being undetected congenital (present at birth) cardiac disease.  Non-invasive screening procedures are available that can rule out potentially harmful structural heart abnormalities.  An echocardiogram (ultrasound) is painless, safe, non-invasive screening tool often used to diagnose structural abnormalities of the heart.  This test, in addition to the pre-participation screening physical provided by your primary care physician, may provide valuable information about the risk for SCD. 

Jump ahead on this page

1. Find an Echo Screening  
2. Benefits of an Echo Screening  
3. Patient Stories  

Find an Echo Screening

Cardiac screenings are available for students in grades nine through twelve. Since 2008, Dr. Edward Harlamert and Indiana University Health Cardiovascular Services have championed this effort in partnership with numerous local high schools.  Screenings are available in the Indianapolis metropolitan and Tipton areas.   
A screening event can be organized at your local area high school at no charge to your school, Indiana University Health Cardiovascular Services will assist in the planning, organization and execution.

If you would like to host a screening event at your school, please ask your athletic director to contact our offices at 317.678.3963 for the Indianapolis metropolitan area or 765.675.1759 in the Tipton area, and we will be happy to help.

Benefits of an Echo Screening

An echocardiogram helps detect structural heart diseases and the following conditions:

  • Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy:  Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy (HOCM) is a complex type of heart disease that affects the heart muscle. It is condition which includes the thickening and/or stiffness of the heart muscle or changes to the heart valves.  Learn more about Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy. 
  • Anomalous Coronary Artery:  An anomalous coronary artery (ACA) is a coronary artery that has an abnormality or malformation. The malformation is present at birth and can lead to complications later in life.
  • Myocarditis:  Myocarditis is inflammation of heart muscle.  Myocarditis can be caused by infection or a virus which can lead to weakening of the heart muscle. 
  • Long QT Syndrome:  Long QT syndrome (LQTS) is a disorder of the heart's electrical system. Individuals with LOTS may experience problems with heart rate or rhythm in response to exercise that can result in SCD.
  • Aortic Disease:  The aorta is the largest artery in the body.  When affected by disease, the aorta can split (dissection) or dilate (aneurysm) causing it to rupture. 
  • Valve Disease:  Heart valve disease occurs when one or more of the heart valves don't work properly.  Birth defects, age-related changes, infections, or other conditions can cause one or more of your heart valves to not properly open or close. 

For further information, please visit the American Heart Association website.

Patient Stories

Learn more about Nate’s story and how the Echoes for Athletes program at Indiana University Health identified his heart problem.