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Br J Sports Med 47:28-33 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2012-091751
  • Original articles

Return to play? Athletes with congenital long QT syndrome

Editor's Choice
  1. Michael J Ackerman1,2,3
  1. 1Department of Pediatrics/Division of Pediatric Cardiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
  2. 2Department of Medicine/Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
  3. 3Department of Molecular Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics, Windland Smith Rice Sudden Death Genomics Laboratory, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michael J Ackerman, Department of Molecular Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics, Long QT Syndrome Clinic and the Mayo Clinic, Windland Smith Rice Sudden Death Genomics Laboratory, Mayo Clinic, Guggenheim 501, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA; ackerman.michael{at}mayo.edu
  • Received 6 September 2012
  • Revised 6 September 2012
  • Accepted 6 October 2012
  • Published Online First 28 November 2012

Abstract

Background Competitive sports participation for athletes with congenital long QT syndrome (LQTS) is guided by the 2005 36th Bethesda Conference and the 2005 European Society of Cardiology (ESC) guidelines. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and outcomes of patients with LQTS who chose to remain athletes following their diagnosis.

Methods Records of all patients between 6 and 40 years of age who were first evaluated in Mayo Clinic's LQTS Clinic from July 2000 to November 2010 were reviewed, for documentation of athletic participation after LQTS diagnosis and LQTS-related events during follow-up. Average follow-up was 5.5±3.4 years.

Results The cohort included 353 patients with LQTS (199 females, mean age 17±11 years, mean QTc 472±42 ms), of whom 182 had LQT1, 130 had LQT2, 37 had LQT3 and 4 had multiple LQTS mutations. The majority of patients (223, 63%) were either not involved in sports (88%) or chose to discontinue sports (12%) following evaluation. 130 patients (37%, 60 females, mean age 11±7 years, mean QTc 471±46 ms) remained in competitive athletics, including 20 with implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). Of these 130, 70 (54%) were genotype-positive/phenotype-negative and competing contrary to ESC guidelines but within the Bethesda guidelines. None of these athletes had a sport-related event. Of the 60 LQTS athletes continuing in sports contrary to both the Bethesda and ESC guidelines (genotype-positive/phenotype-positive), only one had a sporting-related event with appropriate ICD shock.

Conclusions Athletes and their families are fully capable of self-disqualification. Among those athletes with LQTS who chose to remain in competitive sports, a low rate of cardiac events and no deaths were observed in over 650 athlete-years of follow-up. Current guideline-based recommendations for disqualification may be excessive for this disease.