Sports Cardiology Program
Athletes are often seen as the picture of health and fitness, yet even elite athletes are not immune from having or developing heart and vascular disease. Whether you are a seasoned marathoner or are just beginning an intensive training program, Northwestern Medicine’s Sports Cardiology Program is here to support your cardiovascular health.
We offer a comprehensive approach to your cardiovascular care. This includes providing skilled clinical care sensitive to your needs as an athlete, advanced cardiac testing, and the latest treatments to work towards optimal cardiac health and safe athletic participation.
Who can benefit from the expertise of a sports cardiologist?
Athletes of different ages and different performance goals have different needs. Who can benefit from the expertise of a sports cardiologist?
- A team athlete who needs pre-participation screening
- A seasoned athlete who needs expert guidance in managing a new or existing cardiac condition
- An athlete with an abnormal cardiac test, or a new or concerning symptom
- An emerging athlete who needs guidance and evaluation before starting rigorous training
- A competitive athlete who would like advanced cardiovascular testing to guide training and to maximize performance
What is so different about being an athlete? Aren’t all hearts the same?
Exercise has a number of positive health benefits. It can lower blood pressure and improve the cholesterol profile, all while improving cardiovascular fitness. The heart adapts to exercise in different ways depending on the type, volume, and intensity of training. Changes that may be expected for a competitive cyclist will be different than a weightlifter. Certain findings on cardiac testing that may raise concern in a non-athlete may be considered normal for a particular athlete depending on his or her background, type, and level of training. We will help discern whether an ‘abnormal’ finding is truly a cause for concern, and possibly eliminate the need for further testing, unnecessary worry, and time off of the playing field.
What makes a ‘sports’ cardiologist different from a ‘regular’ cardiologist?
All cardiologists are trained to recognize and treat common cardiovascular conditions such as coronary artery disease and heart rhythm disorders. What sets the sports cardiologist apart is the understanding of what is considered normal for an athlete and his or her particular sport, and the acknowledgement of how important activity is to both physical and emotional well-being. We have a heightened awareness of issues that affect athletes’ health and how certain medications or diagnoses may affect performance, and the expertise to uncover subtle clues that may not otherwise get as much attention due to an athlete’s high exercise capacity.
Comprehensive Cardiovascular Care and Clinical Research
As part of Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, we diagnose and treat the entire spectrum of heart and vascular conditions. Clinical research protocols in multiple areas are ongoing, including learning about how advanced testing can help diagnose and treat the athletic heart.
A Team Approach to Sports-Oriented Care
You know how important a team is to meeting your athletic goals, and so do we. Our team works closely with our other subspecialists such as cardiac electrophysiology, interventional cardiology, and our colleagues in sports medicine, orthopedic surgery, cardiac surgery, vascular surgery, neurology and nutrition to help provide you with comprehensive care for all your athletic needs. Patients can conveniently be seen at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital downtown campus or Glenview locations. Appointment times and available testing vary based on location.