What is sports cardiology and what does it treat?

Sports cardiology is a subspecialty of clinical cardiology, which is specifically dedicated to cardiovascular assessment, both for the competitive athlete as well as for those who play sports at a recreational level, which is practically 80% of people.

At the same time, it is also dedicated to advising those who do not have a regular sporting experience, but who wish to start one.

So is it a cardiology that applies to people with coronary problems or to everyone?

Any person with a heart disease who wants to do sport or start doing it, needs a clinical cardiological check-up. Then, depending on the type of heart disease, the examinations and tests to be performed vary according to each person.

In any case, in general terms, there are very few heart diseases that prevent people from doing sports. In fact, there are patients on the waiting list for transplants or transplant patients who can do sport, that is, there are practically no heart diseases that contraindicate it. For cardiovascular health, it is generally good to do sport.

On the other hand, in people who do not have diagnosed heart disease, a medical check-up is advisable, especially after the age of 40, to identify individual cardiovascular risk, since it is at this age that the prevalence of coronary heart disease increases.

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In cases of people under 40 years of age, if there is a history of heart disease, whether due to symptoms or family history, a cardiological check-up is also recommended.

What happens if a problem is detected during a check-up?

Generally, first of all, a clinical interview and an examination are carried out to identify suspicious symptoms or signs. The study is completed with an electrocardiogram, complete blood tests and, generally, also with echocardiography, which allows direct observation of the functioning of the heart. In some cases it can also be completed with a stress test, which is used to assess the adaptation of the heart to intense physical activity. With all this, it is possible to detect if there is a heart disease in a single consultation, as well as the cardiovascular risk of the person.

In the event that a heart disease is detected, the study would be extended with other tests in order to better diagnose and treat it. If it is not detected, guidelines and advice on prevention will be given.

Does sudden death affect children or also adults?

There are several heart diseases that make sudden death possible. The most frequent cause of sudden death after 40 years of age is usually obstructive coronary lesions.

In younger people, i.e., from adolescents to 40 years of age, there are other problems that can cause sudden death, generally of a genetic nature or congenital heart disease.

At ages below adolescence, sudden death does exist, although it is less frequent. In fact, it is considered that infant death is an expression of sudden death, that is, of a very early heart disease that causes it.

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When and how often should I have a cardiological check-up, and what problems can be avoided?

When we make the first contact with the patient we make an assessment of cardiovascular risk, we determine what is known as “biological age”. For example, a 50-year-old person who does not smoke has less cardiovascular risk than a 35-year-old who smokes and is obese.

Cardiovascular risk is not so much determined by chronological age as by biological age. Once the risk profile has been assessed, a follow-up program can be drawn up. For a healthy person with few risk factors, this can be done once every year or every two years.

If there are more cardiovascular risk factors, they should be followed more frequently. For example, in obese and diabetic patients, check-ups should be done every three or six months to monitor and control these factors that can degenerate into coronary disease, such as sugar, weight or sedentary lifestyle, so we must be much stricter with these patients.

In conclusion, heart-healthy habits and general physical activity is a tool that we all have in our hands and that can significantly change the prognosis of each patient, with a great impact on quality of life and health. There is no heart disease that contraindicates physical activity, but rather improves it.

For more information, consult a Cardiology specialist.