American Medical Society for Sports Medicine
For Immediate Release Apr 22, 2008

OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS:  The annual incidence of sudden cardiac death in the young athlete in the United States is approximately 1:250,000 participants with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy being found most commonly at post mortem. Dr. Puffer discussed the nationally mandated Italian screening program, which requires ECGs for all competitive athletes between the ages of 12 - 35. Studies looking at before and after implementation of the national screening program reveal a statistically significant decrease in sudden cardiac death; this decline is primarily attributable to significantly fewer deaths from cardiomyopathies, specifically Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy. As a result of the Italian experience, the European Society of Cardiology and the International Olympic Committee have recommended that an ECG be included in screening young athletes. However, Dr. Puffer pointed out that the post screening incidence of sudden cardiac death in Italy equaled the reported incidence in the USA, which currently does not mandate ECG screening. He cautioned that screening 6 million athletes with a hypothetically ideal screening test that had 100% sensitivity and 98% specificity would yield 30 true positives and 60,000 false positives; the less sensitive and specific screening ECG would perform much worse.

Dr. Puffer summarized his talk by reminding the audience that sudden cardiac death in young athletes in the United States usually results from unsuspected congenital cardiac abnormalities. However, insufficient evidence exists to support the routine use of the ECG to screen for these abnormalities at the present time.

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was organized in 1991 by physicians who recognized the need for an organization within the field of sports medicine that approached athletes, exercising individuals and teams comprehensively with consultative and continuous care of their orthopedic, medical, nutritional and psychosocial issues. Although sports medicine concepts are often thought of in conjunction with professional and elite athletes, these concepts apply to athletes of all levels including grade school, high school, college and recreational athletes. AMSSM is comprised of over 1000 Sports Medicine Physicians whose goal is to provide a link between the rapidly expanding core of knowledge related to sports medicine and its application to patients in a clinical setting.

NOTE: For more information, please contact the AMSSM, 11639 Earnshaw, Overland Park, KS 66210, (913) 327-1415.

NOTE: For more information, please contact the AMSSM, 4000 W. 114th St., Suite 100, Leawood, KS 66211, (913) 327-1415.

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4000 W. 114th Street, Suite 100
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Phone: 913.327.1415

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