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Athlete Heart Issues Focus of Inaugural National Summit

| Washington, D.C.—Cardiologists, representatives from professional sport leagues, athletic trainers and more will convene in the nation’s capitol later this month to brainstorm and discuss how to better protect the hearts of athletes ranging from pre-teens to seniors. The inaugural Sports & Exercise Cardiology Think Tank, Oct. 18, and accompanying Sports Cardiology Summit, Oct. 19-20, are being sponsored and co-led by Indiana University Health Cardiovascular and the American College of Cardiology Foundation.

Millions of Americans participate in competitive and recreational sports, but there is no set of standardized guidelines to address the cardiac issues faced by athletes of different conditioning and age. For example, a college basketball player might receive the same medical advice as an amateur 60-year-old runner. Attendees at the summit will discuss everything from whether all athletes – regardless of skill level or age – should be screened for heart issues prior to playing or if cardiologists should be keeping a more robust registry of U.S. athletes and their heart conditions for research purposes.

“Every year, we see several unfortunate stories in the news media about athletes – both young and professional – who collapse on the field or court due to sudden cardiac arrest,” said Dr. Richard Kovacs, an IU Health cardiologist and co-director of the think tank and summit. “IU Health hopes by gathering the nation’s brightest minds in cardiology and conditioning that we can develop approaches to put an end to these unnecessary deaths. We want to make participation for all athletes as safe as possible.”

Additional sessions at the summit, which will focus mostly on education, will include Kovacs discussing IU Health’s involvement in screening athletes for heart issues at the NFL Scouting Combine; breakout sessions on how the heart is affected by weightlifting, marathons, swimming and high altitude; and the role of genetic testing in athletes. The think tank, an invitation-only event the day prior, will focus largely on brainstorming of new treatments and guidelines.

Kovacs, a clinical professor and director of the Indiana University School of Medicine Krannert Institute of Cardiology, has years of experience in working with heart issues in athletes.

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About Indiana University Health Named among the “Best Hospitals in America” by U.S. News & World Report for 15 consecutive years, Indiana University Health is dedicated to providing a unified standard of preeminent, patient-centered care. A unique partnership with Indiana University School of Medicine – one of the nation’s leading medical schools – gives our highly skilled physicians access to innovative treatments using the latest research and technology.

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