There have been many instances of fatalities in the sports arena and one of the most common causes of such fatalities has been cardiovascular ailments. A leading Italian doctor has advocated

Heart screening includes looking at the electrical activity of the heart tailored heart screening to check for life-threatening conditions before Olympic athletes can compete

Dr Paulo Adami from the Institute of Sport Medicine and Science of the Italian Olympic Committee, examined athletes shortlisted for the Olympic games between 2004 and 2014. Dr. Adami ran extensive tests on 2,354 elite athletes and was surprised to find six athletes had potentially life threatening disorders that disqualified them from taking part.

Dr Paulo Adami has presented his early findings at the European Society of Cardiology meeting.

The tests conducted on the elite athletes who were set to participate in the Olympics included ECG tests (recordings the electrical activity of their hearts) both at rest and while doing exercise and ultrasound scans of their hearts.

300 athletes showed worrisome symptoms and further investigation revealed that 6 athletes suffered from life-threatening conditions which meant they could no longer participate in any competitive sports. 165 subjects were allowed to continue with their sporting career but with annual checks. 100 subjects were considered as having problems which were trivial and unlikely to affect their sporting career later.

Dr Adami said: “We cannot take it for granted that elite athletes are healthy. This study demonstrates that a more accurate assessment is necessary for elite professional athletes than for members of the general population, in view of the intensity and stress on their cardiovascular system. We suggest that our model of screening is applied to all elite athletes, regardless of the sport they practice.”

However the British Heart Foundation (BHF) opines that screening is not accurate to be used routinely. Heart screening can pick up abnormalities which could become fatal later. This is rare but BHF does say that it is more common in athletes than the normal population and one or two athletes die each year in this way.

It is not clear why this increased risk exists but experts suggest that it could be due to the strain put on the heart by extensive exercise.

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