In the United States, people involved in sports has grown rapidly in recent years. In response to this trend, Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Heart & Vascular Center in Lebanon has launched a new Sports Cardiology program to provide personalized screening and treatment services tailored to the unique needs of athletes.
Run by Gregory A. Dadekian, MD, Merle L. Myerson. MD, EdD, and David C. Peritz, MD, the Sports Cardiology Clinic provides cardiovascular care for athletes at all levels of competition, from high school and college athletes to “weekend warriors” to older athletes who participate in competitive or endurance sports such as marathon running, ski racing, cycling, and triathlons.
“The athletes we see in our clinic usually fall into two main groups: young, healthy athletes who need cardiovascular screening, and middle-aged or older athletes who have cardiovascular symptoms, endurance concerns, or cardiovascular disease,” says Dadekian.
The Sports Cardiology Clinic at Dartmouth-Hitchcock got its start by providing screening and treatment services for about 1,000 student-athletes at Dartmouth College, in Hanover. Although the clinic continues to care for Dartmouth College athletes, Dadekian and his colleagues saw a need to make these services available to the public.
“The physiology in the athletic subset of cardiology patients is different, and the people in this group need specialized evaluation, treatment, and activity recommendations,” he said. “We receive referrals from other cardiologists because we offer specialized cardiovascular screening and management from an athletic perspective.”
Dadekian, an avid ice hockey player for many years, recommends that all athletes receive cardiovascular screening. If abnormalities are detected, athletes should be referred to a cardiovascular specialist.
The purpose of screening is twofold: First, it facilitates the detection of underlying cardiac conditions that could increase the risk of a cardiac event during athletic participation. Second, screening provides a baseline assessment of cardiovascular health that can be used for comparison if symptoms — such as chest discomfort, palpitations, or shortness of breath — develop in the future.
When an athlete experiences cardiovascular symptoms or receives a diagnosis of a cardiovascular condition, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she must stop participating in the sport they love. A sports cardiologist can confirm whether an athlete’s condition will affect the ability to participate in a particular sport.
(Pictured above: Gregory Dadekian, MD consults with an athlete at the Sports Cardiology Clinic at Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Heart & Vascular Center)