Heart Screenings for Athletes

Jason T. Bradley, MD
Cardiologist, Lankenau Heart Group

It’s common knowledge that regular exercise is a prescription for a heart-healthy life. And with a few exceptions, working out is considered safe for almost anyone. Still should some athletes—be they weekend warriors, seasoned marathoners or college players—have a heart screening? If you fall into any of the categories listed below, that answer might be yes.

1. You have a strong family history of heart disease, or heart attack at a young age. Heart attacks under the age of 55 for men and 65 for women is considered young. If you have parents or siblings who fall into this group, you should consider talking to a cardiologist to get a better picture of your heart health and discuss your fitness program.

2. You discover you have high blood pressure. People who have high blood pressure are generally encouraged to exercise to help lower it, but if you have untreated high blood pressure, physical activity can actually exacerbate the situation. If you are concerned about elevated blood pressure, consider having a cardiac screening.

3. You have physical symptoms indicative of a heart problem when you workout. If you have experienced dizziness, loss of consciousness, chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, cold sweat, or heart rhythm abnormalities while exercising, you should definitely talk to your doctor about your symptoms. They could be signs of an underlying heart condition.

If you’re an athlete concerned about your cardiac health, there’s no risk in having a heart screening. Talking to your doctor might just give you that competitive edge you need to stay healthy.

Join Dr. Bradley live at Lankenau’s Wednesday Web Chat, July 24 at 7 p.m.: Athletes at All Levels & Cardiac Risk. Sign up now.

Stay Heart Smart. Ask your Heart Health questions via Lankenau’s Facebook page for your chance to win a Whole Foods gift card.