Sudden Death in Young Athletes

J. Willis Hurst, MD, MACP

Disclosures

December 02, 2003

Introduction

Sudden death in young athletes is an important subject that is beautifully reviewed by Barry Maron.[1] My brief statement here is to emphasize that every doctor who sees young athletes should read the article.

In his review, Maron constructed a table, based on data from the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, that is especially revealing as to the cause of sudden death in 387 young athletes. I recommend that the reader carefully study the table presented in the article. Maron lists 20 causes of sudden death in young athletes; he cites the most common ones as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (26.4%), commotio cordis (19.9% ), coronary artery anomalies (13.7%), left ventricular hypertrophy of undetermined cause, (7.5%), and myocarditis (5.2%).

The challenge to the medical profession is to devise affordable methods of screening to identify some of the aforementioned conditions before a young athlete engages in certain sports and to develop protective clothing to prevent commotio cordis.

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