Sudden Death in Young Athletes

J. Willis Hurst, MD, MACP


December 02, 2003


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.