Sports and Exercise Cardiology Expands in the US
Since the population of athletes of all ages in the U.S. has grown dramatically over the last decade, and there is an increasing need and interest in the development of cardiovascular care strategies that address the specific needs of athletes, the ACC has taken part in the effort to improve the emerging subspecialty of Sports and Exercise Cardiology, according to an article published Feb. 12 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology .
The article provides the rationale for the tailoring of cardiovascular care to athletes and individuals who exercise – specifically the differences in cardiovascular physiology and risk between athletes and non-athletes, as well as the differences among athletes participating in different sports – and defines the role of the cardiovascular specialist within the health care team. It also reviews the foundation and goals of the ACC's Sports and Exercise Cardiology Membership Section, which was launched in 2011.
Since the launch of the section, membership has grown from 150 to more than 4,000 members. The section's goals are to develop sports and exercise cardiology strategies that are patient-centered and based on athlete-specific knowledge, tailors available technologies to the needs of athletes, is collaborative with existing sports medicine specialties and provides advocacy.
"When we first started this section, we recognized that athletes are unique patients. Also, sports participation has doubled in every age bracket over the last 10 years," said Christine Lawless, MD, FACC, lead author of the study and co-chair of the ACC Sports and Exercise Cardiology Section. "We see the athlete as a unique patient because of cardiovascular adaptations to training and the environment. Because of that, we have to come up with a unique discipline within cardiology if we are going to be treating these people."
Also among the section's goals is the improvement of the existing athlete-centric cardiovascular database. No large-scale, randomized cardiovascular clinical trials have been conducted in athletes, there are no practical guidelines on evaluating and treating cardiovascular symptoms and diseases in athletes, and the data currently available to cardiologists treating athletes are generally not based on outcome studies in athletes.
Moving forward, the authors propose future studies on the epidemiology of cardiovascular diseases and events in athletes, studies focused on screening and diagnosing cardiovascular diseases in athletes and studies focused on the acute and long-term treatment of cardiovascular diseases in athletes.
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