Northwestern Medicine

Cardiovascular Screening for Athletes Can Detect Life Threatening Conditions

Northwestern Memorial Hospital October 06, 2014

Different levels of screening offered for different levels of athletes

CHICAGO, IL – As the fall sports season swings into high gear, physicians at Northwestern Medicine’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute Sports Cardiology Program remind young athletes and their parents of the importance of cardiovascular screening for life threatening disorders.

“Competitive athletes at all levels are rightly considered one of the healthiest segments of our population,” said Micah Eimer, MD, co-director of the sports cardiology program and medical director of the Northwestern Medicine Glenview Outpatient Center. “Proper screening for athletes can detect life-threatening conditions, helping to avoid the tragedy of sudden cardiac death on the playing field.”

While there is consensus in the medical community that athletes should receive cardiovascular screening to help detect serious heart issues, there is ongoing discussion about what level of screening is appropriate. Northwestern Medicine’s sports cardiology program offers the full range of screening to athletes.

The levels of screening include:
  • A history and complete physical, something recommended for every level of athlete
  • Electrocardiogram, or EKG, screening, a non-invasive test measuring electrical activity from the heart. Northwestern Medicine’s sports cardiology program currently performs these tests for Northwestern University athletes.
  • Echocardiogram screening, a detailed ultrasound video that can detect and evaluate heart issues like heart murmurs, enlarged heart, irregular heartbeat, heart valves, atrial fibrillation and congenital heart disease, among others.
In the event an abnormality is detected there is access to Northwestern Medicine experts in advanced heart imaging, rhythm abnormalities, valvular heart disease and cardiomyopathy at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital.

“All athletes should receive some level of screening to help minimize risk and maximize performance,” said R. Kannan Mutharasan, MD, who is co-director of the sports cardiology program. “If you’re concerned about some symptoms, have a family history of heart disease you want to discuss or would like guidance on managing cardiovascular risk factors, we’re here to start a conversation with you.”

The sports cardiology program was founded in 2013 and is part of a robust Northwestern Medicine sports medicine program that serves athletes at every level, from adolescents in school and league sports, master’s level weekend warriors to professional athletes in all major sports leagues. The multidisciplinary sports medicine program includes physicians working in sports medicine, orthopaedic surgery, cardiac surgery, vascular surgery, neurology and nutrition to help provide comprehensive care to athletes.

For more information about cardiovascular screening, or to make an appointment with a Northwestern Medicine sports cardiologist, visit Northwestern Medicine Sports Cardiology Program or call (312) NM-HEART.

Media Contact

Kara Spak
Manager, Media Relations
Northwestern Memorial Hospital 312.926.0755