Your heart adapts in different ways depending on your sport, your age, your sex, your training program, and whether you are strength- or endurance-focused. No matter what your age or level of competition, Northwestern Medicine’s Sports Cardiology Program can help you to work towards heart and vascular health and safe athletic participation.
Athletes in different stages of life or competition have different needs. Who could benefit from seeing a sports cardiologist? Here are a few of the common types of athletes we see:
Young Adult Athletes — Younger athletes like you have unique cardiovascular needs, and pre-participation screening may be appropriate to evaluate for heart and/or vascular conditions that can make athletic competition dangerous. Whether you need a screening examination or have abnormal results from pre-participation screening, our team stands ready to continue the evaluation and help you weigh and understand the risks. We use the latest and most up-to-date screening protocols and guidelines to minimize delays and diagnose quickly and accurately.
Recreational Athletes — Perhaps you have a new diagnosis of high cholesterol, have recently started blood pressure medications, or are recovering from a heart attack. You are eager to get into a program of physical activity, but are not sure where to start or what level of activity is safe. We can perform appropriate testing to assess your readiness and to point you in the right direction as you embark on a life-long journey of athletic fitness.
Master's Athlete — You are thirty-five or older, and have been running, cycling, swimming, or otherwise engaged in physical activity for years or decades. Although you are still literally miles ahead of most people you know, you have had a decline in performance that is sudden or unexpected. Or maybe you have a significant family history of heart disease, or other old habits such as smoking and have never had your cardiovascular health evaluated. While exercise has innumerable health benefits, it does not preclude development of common cardiovascular conditions like coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation or peripheral vascular disease. We can test for the presence of cardiovascular conditions, and help to get you back to training and competing safely. We may also recommend preventive measures to reduce your future risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Elite Performance Athletes — You live to compete, and if you could, you would compete to live. You are looking to maximize your cardiovascular performance so that you and your coach can better tailor your training so that you can achieve your peak potential. We offer advanced testing such as cardiopulmonary exercise testing to help you achieve your goals.