Athletes and Genetic Heart Diseases

Athletes and Genetic Heart Diseases

The eyes of a competitive sports athlete are piercing, focused and knowledgeable. Awe-inspiring skill is seen in their every move. The swiftness of their feet, their fingers' dexterity, and their teammates' coxing. However, all competitive sports athletes are not created equal.

The competitive sports athlete has a higher risk for many aches and pains, stress-related ailments, and injuries. They also tend to lack a sense of self-worth. A study showed that athletes with a family history of cardiovascular disease did not think they were "worthy" due to the higher risks. Their hearts in the game are left vulnerable. This common misconception that competitive athletes are genetically superior is not always as it seems. There are many genetic and physical limitations to every competitive sports athlete.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and other metabolic conditions can cause sudden cardiac arrest. They can even lead to the death of an athlete. These heart diseases can be a death sentence to them. It is potentially preventing them from having the career they so clearly merit. Therefore, sports medicine is important for competitive athletes as it can put them on the path to success or lead to their premature demise.

However, there is hope for high-risk athletes due to improvements in athletics technology and knowledge of the heart. After a thorough cardiac evaluation by a sports medicine physician, the genetic heart disease athlete can be cleared to go on with their athletic pursuits. Studies have shown that athletes with congenital heart disease can maintain their normal life expectancy if properly screened and trained.

The Olympic Games or other competitive sports events can decide an athlete's life. Therefore, a proper understanding of sports medicine and epidemiology is crucial for athletes wishing to compete at the highest sports levels. Enough resources are available to help even the most genetically at-risk athletes. Genetic screening lets athletes know if they are at increased risk for these disorders.

If a congenital heart disease is found, the athlete can access genetic counseling, imaging, and other diagnostic procedures to help prevent dangerous complications. If the genetic condition is mild, some precautions are taken to postpone the onset of complications. Proper diet, training, and rest can have a long-term, positive impact on one's life expectancy.

It is entirely up to the competitive sports athlete to make the right choices for their heart. Hopefully, genetic counseling will help those at the highest risk for a disorder. Before participating in any competitive sport, there are several considerations and steps to take. These considerations assure that the athlete's heart is protected, and they can compete at their best.

  1. The athlete's family must know about their condition and give consent for the athlete to participate in competitive sport. They must also be made aware of other genetic diseases that they may have in their family.

  1. The family and the athlete must agree to the two O's or opt-out. Optional or Oxygen. If the athlete can tolerate the O's, they are fine to participate in a competitive sport.

  1. All the coaches, trainers, etc., must be aware of the athlete's condition to train them. Also, as to perform tests and ensure they are fully prepared and ready for their competition.

  1. The institutions must be in agreement that the athlete should participate. They must make sure that the athlete is fit before they start competing. The institution must ensure that the athlete is not at risk of heart failure or other cardiac issues.

  1. An automatic external defibrillator must be available before, during, and after the competition. It must be placed on the athlete's body during the match and be used when the athlete goes into cardiac arrest.

If an athlete has cardiac issues, heart disease, or other major health problems, they should see a cardiologist as soon as possible to determine what is causing their symptoms.

A sports surgeon and cardiologist must supervise sports athletes and genetic heart disorders. Many sports organizations have medical committees to ensure that athletes are medically fit to compete. If a congenital heart disease is detected, the athlete should consult a sports medicine specialist to ensure they are medically ready to compete. All competitive sports athletes should have regular screenings to ensure their hearts are healthy and fit.