Sudden Death in Athletes

Sudden Death in Athletes

Sudden death occurs in an unexpected and unprecedented manner within the first hour from the onset of the first symptom. Athlete-related sudden death is considered when it happens during or after physical activity.

This phenomenon can occur to any athlete, mostly to men and apparently healthy young athletes. Which tends to be a devastating event for the sports community. Its frequency is low, reporting around one death per 200,000 inhabitants per year. However, it is a condition that is given a lot of emphasis and diffusion since it can prevented.

The causes of sudden death are diverse, including environmental factors (heat stroke), trauma (due to high-risk and contact sports), and chronic diseases, with cardiovascular diseases being the most prevalent.

It is important to know that there are normal physiological and morphological changes in the heart of high-performance athletes, this is called “athlete’s heart” and it is important to know these variations to differentiate normal from abnormal findings. Dichos cambios son: These changes are: symmetric thickening of the left ventricle, sinus bradycardia, prolongation of the p wave in the electrocardiogram, and no presence of atrial growth.

These changes must be distinguished from the most common cardiovascular causes of sudden death for a timely diagnosis, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (main cause), ischemic heart disease, Marfan syndrome, and valvular diseases.

Even with a low rate of cases, sudden death is unfortunately unavoidable at the moment it occurs, but the frequency can be reduced through an appropriate approach. Its only treatment is prevention, which is why its diffusion and education to athletes, their teams and organizations is important.

The recommended measures are a medical check with a specialist in that area, which should include a complete physical examination, a clinical history with emphasis on family history, an electrocardiogram and a cardiological and sports stress test with ergospirometry to assess the heart function under physical stress.