Examining Sudden Cardiac Death in High School Competitive Athletes: An Overview of Contributing Etiologies, Prevalence, Screening, and Participation Guidelines

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Medicine and Health Sciences


Sudden cardiac death (SCD), is a relatively rare but dangerous occurrence for athletes across the globe. Increasing attention has been drawn to the condition, especially for the likes of highly competitive athletes. Current research provides insight into common etiologies and screening recommendations, without addressing the specific population of high school aged competitive athletes. The likely etiologies and screening recommendations for high school athletes have been reviewed to provide information to physicians and medical students about the practicality of testing for conditions that may contribute to SCD. The prevalence of SCD is examined, along with which sports contribute to higher likelihood of developing sudden cardiac death. An in-depth literature investigation was performed to review structural abnormalities, along with inherited arrhythmias to determine which of these have a strong potential to develop into sudden cardiac death. Each etiology is presented with characteristic symptoms, activity recommendation, and possible results from testing, to allow sufficient understanding to practitioners commonly performing pre-participation physicals for high school athletes. Proper screening and participation guidelines were also reviewed to aid in recognition of etiologies and further decision making regarding whether an athlete can compete in their respective sports or not. This information can be utilized in the decision-making process for screening young competitive athletes, and proper guidelines for participation can be given to limit the number of cases of sudden cardiac death in this population.


Copyright 2018 all authors

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