The sudden death of a young athlete remains the most devastating event in sports with tragic impact on the family, school, and local community. Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is the leading cause of death in exercising young athletes and a principal cause of fatalities in all children and young adults. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recently identified SCD in young individuals as a significant public health concern, and a critical need exists for the development of effective preventive strategies.
The accuracy and feasibility of advanced cardiovascular screening are linked to physician training and experience. Unfortunately, medical curricula addressing the diseases associated with sudden cardiac arrest in the young and their proper diagnosis and management are absent from most primary care and cardiology training programs in the United States. A significant need exists to establish greater physician expertise and services related to the cardiovascular care of athletes.
The UW sports medicine and cardiology programs are proud to be leading the field of sports cardiology through the development of new educational resources, research, and training experiences. Leaders from UW Medicine hosted an international summit on ECG interpretation in athletes to establish modern interpretation standards in the evaluation of an athlete’s ECG. Research from our program is providing critical insights into the incidence and etiology of sudden cardiac arrest and death in children and young athletes, the role of ECG within cardiovascular screening models, and the benefit of secondary prevention programs centered on the placement of AEDs in schools and other sporting venues. Importantly, our program has established a youth heart screening initiative which provides an important community service while training physicians in advanced cardiovascular screening.
The Center for Sports Cardiology was created to formally house and expand the clinical and academic programs related to sports cardiology within UW Medicine. The Sports Cardiology Program offers novel clinical services through the new state-of-the-art Sports Medicine Center at Husky Stadium. Our goal is to offer exceptional clinical care, expand research and educational programs, and accelerate needed advances in the cardiovascular care of children and young athletes.