Sudden death during exercise: A cruel turn of events

R. J. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

The causes of sudden death in exercisers age 35 and younger are generally not preventable because they are typically structural and difficult to detect. The best a physician can do is be alert to important information in the family and patient history and to the occasional sign or symptom that may warrant further evaluation. For the over-35 exerciser, screening tests may be appropriate, especially if the person is just beginning an exercise program, although this remains an area of controversy. The screening tests available are far from perfect. If exercise testing is performed, the asymptomatic patient must be apprised of the possibility of a false-positive result and the consequences and attendant risks of overdiagnosis or additional testing (coronary angiography). Physicians should be alert to suspicious symptoms in physically active patients, but they should avoid the tendency to have these patients stop their exercise program. Instead, after appropriate diagnostic testing, they should advise a modified exercise program that is safely within the limits of the disease process involved. It is important to realize that physical activity can be a preventer of cardiac disease but also a provoker of sudden death. Even so, the benefits of regular exercise clearly outweigh the risks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-198+201
JournalPostgraduate Medicine
Volume92
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992

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