Athletes, check your heart function for wellness

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Mere muscles and toned physical appearance can be deceiving in athletes. With regular medical check-up particularly on heart function is a sure way to determine the health status of an active individual.

A condition known as cardiomyopathy, which may be present in some athletes, can be determined using electrocardiogram (ECG). Electrocardiogram is a way of measuring the electrical activity of the heart in relation to the normal pumping or beating of the heart. Once an abnormality is observed, it means there is something wrong in the heart function that needs to be checked.

Cardiomyopathy is the condition where the heart muscle becomes thick, inflamed or enlarged causing the heart’s inability to pump blood well or unable to beat at a normal pace. As this happens, studies showed that heart failure may occur brought about by weak heart function, blood clot (thrombus) and arrhythmia or abnormal heart rhythm.

Dr. Antonio Pelliccia and his colleagues of the Italian National Olympic Committee recently reported in The New England Journal of Medicine that athletes with abnormal ECG patterns need to be monitored regularly. He said doing this is not merely reading the findings but rather taking measures to remedy possible heart disorders.

Pelliccia’s group made a study based on the 29-year database taken from the records of Rome’s Institute of Sports Medicine and Science.

One percent among the total population of 12,550 athletes was found suffering from having abnormal ECGs. Athletes with abnormal ECGs but have no signs or family history of cardiomyopathies or evidence of any heart disease using other indicators, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or echocardiography, were allowed to pursue their athletic careers under close supervision and reevaluation.

However, those who have spots of possible heart problems or symptoms were asked to stop joining competitions due to risk factors.

The New England Journal of Medicine

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