Sudden cardiac death in sports: could we save Pheidippides?

Sudden cardiac death in sports: could we save Pheidippides? / Asterios Deligiannis, Evangelia Kouidi. - (Acta Cardiologica (2021, 8 January))

  • PMID: 33416030
  • DOI: 10.1080/00015385.2020.1867388


Hereditary diseases under the age of 35 are the most common underlying heart disease, leading to sudden cardiac death (SCD) in competitive sports, while in older people, atherosclerotic coronary artery disease (CAD) is the main cause. The following preventive measures are recommended: (a) The pre-participation cardiovascular screening, (b) the genetic testing, (c) the use of implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), (d) the prohibition of doping in sports, (e) the prevention of 'exercise-induced' cardiac complications, (f) the reduction of high-risk factors for CAD, and (g) the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The cost-effectiveness of the electrocardiograms in the pre-participation screening programs remains questionable. Genetic testing is recommended in borderline cases and positive family history. Athletes with ICD can, under certain conditions, participate in competitive sports. Excessive endurance exercise appears to harm the endothelium, promotes inflammatory processes and leads to fibrosis in the myocardium, and calcium deposition in the coronary vessels. Cardiac arrest may be reversed if cardiopulmonary resuscitation is performed and a defibrillator is immediately used. Thus, equipping all fields with automatic external defibrillators are recommended.


8 January 2021
Deligiannis, Asterios
Kouidi, Evangelia
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Αριστοτέλειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλονίκης - Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh)
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Cardiovascular diseases
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22 March 2021
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30 March 2021
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