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Cardiovascular screening in Olympic athletes: time to achieve a uniform standard
  1. Antonio Pelliccia1,
  2. Jonathan A Drezner2
  1. 1 Department of Medicine, Institute of Sports Medicine and Science, Rome, Italy
  2. 2 Center for Sports Cardiology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Antonio Pelliccia, Institute of sports Medicine and Science, Rome 00197, Italy; ant.pelliccia{at}

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In British Journal of Sports Medicine, Toresdahl et al describe the preparticipation cardiovascular (CV) screening practices implemented for athletes participating in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.1 This study is of particular importance because it highlights the range of CV screening in the world’s most elite athletes.

The chief medical officers (CMOs) present in Rio completed an online survey about the CV screening conducted in their countries for athletes selected to participate in the 2016 Olympic Games. Over 80% of the CMOs replied to the survey, providing a reliable picture of current CV screening practices in Olympic athletes. Most countries (70%) perform annual CV screening, with 85% implementing a personal and family history and 75% also using a screening ECG. Expense and lack of a cardiology consultant were cited as the most common reasons not to include ECG.

Moving beyond the ECG debate: expanding infrastructure

The issue of preparticipation CV screening with or without ECG has been vigorously debated within the scientific community since 2006 when Corrado et al 2 demonstrated a substantial decrease in sudden cardiac death (SCD) in Italian athletes following implementation of an ECG-based national screening programme. The Italian experience has generated considerable criticism over time, with numerous papers supporting or …

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  • Contributors Both authors had major role in the ideation and in writing the present editorial.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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