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Cardiac findings in the precompetition medical assessment of football players participating in the 2009 African Under-17 Championships in Algeria
  1. C Schmied1,
  2. Y Zerguini2,
  3. A Junge3,
  4. P Tscholl3,
  5. A Pelliccia4,
  6. B M Mayosi5,
  7. J Dvorak3
  1. 1
    Cardiovascular Centre, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  2. 2
    Centre d’Evaluation et d’Expertise en Medecine du Sport, Algiers, Algeria
  3. 3
    Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC), Schulthess Clinic, Zurich, Switzerland
  4. 4
    Institute of Sports Medicine and Science (CONI), Rome, Italy
  5. 5
    Department of Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital and University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Professor Jiri Dvorak, Schulthess Klinik, Lengghalde 2, CH-8008 Zurich, Switzerland; medical{at}


Objectives: To screen all players registered for the 8th CAF African Under-17 Championship for risk factors of sudden cardiac death.

Design: Standardised cardiac evaluation prior to the start of the competition.

Study population: 155 male football players from all eight qualified teams; mean age 16.4 (SD 0.68) years (range 14 to 17).

Methods: The cardiac evaluation consisted of a medical history, clinical examination, 12-lead resting electrocardiogram (ECG) and echocardiography, and was performed by three experienced cardiologists using established guidelines.

Results: Nine (5.8%) players reported cardiac symptoms, and the clinical examination was abnormal in only two players with elevated blood pressure. A total of 40 players (25.8%) showed abnormal ECG patterns. None of the players with a positive ECG showed correlating echocardiographic findings. The echocardiogram of one player appeared highly suspicious for early-stage hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and in another player the myocardium was suspicious for non-compaction cardiomyopathy, but both had normal ECGs. Thirteen (8.4%) players showed echocardiographic findings that needed further follow-up. The percentage of players with pathological ECG patterns and some abnormal echocardiographic measurements varied substantially between different ethnic groups.

Conclusion: Cardiological screening for risk factors of sudden cardiac death of football players prior to an international competition proved feasible, and conduction by independent experts allowed high-quality standards and a consistent protocol for the examinations. Differences observed between ethnic groups indicate that guidelines for the analysis of ECGs and echocardiography might be adjusted to the target population.

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  • Funding The authors gratefully acknowledge Fédération Internationale de Football Association for the funding of the study.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the Conseil National de L’Ordre des Medecins, Algiers, Algeria.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.