Sports Cardiology Services
Expert Athlete-Oriented Consultation
The healthcare providers at Northwestern Medicine’s Sports Cardiology Program understand what it means to be an athlete, and how important sports participation is to your overall sense of well-being. We will listen to you when you tell us how your symptoms concern you, and how you feel they limit you. We will review your training data to look for diagnostic clues. We will take the time to explain the options and the risks and work with you to develop a treatment plan that takes into account your unique preferences and goals as an athlete.
As part of Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, the Sports Cardiology Program will tailor an individualized treatment plan that not only diagnoses and treats your underlying heart and/or vascular condition, but works towards returning you to optimal, safe athletic participation.
Advanced Cardiac Testing
Our state-of-the-art clinical care protocols will help us understand how your heart adapts to support your unique athletic needs. We offer advanced cardiac testing interpreted by a team of doctors who interpret your test results with your athletic background in mind.
Testing we offer includes:
- Echocardiography - An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart. It uses sound waves to look at the structure and function of the heart without radiation. In an athlete, echocardiograms can be very useful for getting an overview of how the heart is working and to look for a wide variety of heart disorders, including problems with the valves, enlargement of the heart, or disorders of the heart muscle, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
- Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) - A cardiac MRI can provide stunning 3D details about how the heart is structured and can help diagnose abnormalities such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an enlarged aorta, or rare disorders of the right and left ventricles.
- Cardiac Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA) - A cardiac CTA can be an extremely useful technique for diagnosing coronary artery disease and abnormalities of coronary artery origins, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition that can cause sudden death in athletes.
- Stress Testing and Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing - A stress test is an extremely useful tool to assess the fitness of the athlete, to evaluate for evidence of blockages in the coronary arteries, abnormal heart rhythms provoked by exercise, and to attempt to elicit symptoms in a controlled environment that may occur during training. Cardiopulmonary exercise testing allows for measurement of maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) and lactate threshold, which can be essential information for you and your coach to help guide training and progress.
- Coronary Calcium Scoring – A coronary calcium score is a low-radiation, no-contrast radiology test that can help to further refine your individual cardiac risk profile. It may be used to help guide decisions on when to start preventive medications if the traditional risk assessment is intermediate.