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Emergency cardiac care in the athletic setting: from schools to the Olympics
  1. Brett Toresdahl1,
  2. Ron Courson2,
  3. Mats Börjesson3,
  4. Sanjay Sharma4,
  5. Jonathan Drezner1
  1. 1Department of Family Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  2. 2Department of Kinesiology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA
  3. 3Swedish School of Sports and Health Science and Department of Cardiology, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden
  4. 4Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, St George's University of London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Brett Toresdahl, Department of Family Medicine, University of Washington, 331 NE Thornton Place, Seattle WA 98125, USA; btoresda{at}


Medical providers at sporting events must be well-trained in the care of cardiac emergencies. Optimal outcomes are most likely achieved through comprehensive emergency planning that ensures prompt and appropriate care. The diversity of athletic venues, as well as the age and competition level of different athlete populations, present challenges to the provision of appropriate emergency care in sport. An efficient and coordinated medical response to cardiac emergencies requires an established emergency action plan, training of potential first responders in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and use of an automated external defibrillator, coordinating communication and transportation systems, and ensuring access to appropriate medical equipment and supplies. Prompt recognition and early defibrillation are critical in the management of athletes suffering sudden cardiac arrest. This article reviews emergency planning and cardiac care in athletics, with special considerations presented for the school, large arena, mass event and Olympic settings.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

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