Sudden Cardiac Death in Young Athletes: JACC State-of-the-Art Review

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Gherardo Finocchiaro, Joseph Westaby, Mary N Sheppard, Michael Papadakis, Sanjay Sharma. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2024 Jan 16.
Athletes epitomize the healthiest segment of society. Despite this premise, sudden cardiac death may occur in apparently healthy athletes, attracting significant attention not only in the medical community but also in laypersons and media. The incidence of sudden cardiac death is variably reported, and epidemiological burden differs among cohorts. Athletes appear to be at risk of developing fatal arrhythmias when harboring a quiescent cardiac disorder. Primary cardiomyopathies, ion channelopathies, and coronary artery anomalies are prevalent causes in young individuals. Cardiac assessment of athletes can be challenging because these individuals exhibit a plethora of electrical, structural, and functional physiological changes that overlap with cardiac pathology. A diagnosis of cardiac disease in a young athlete is not necessarily an indication to terminate competition and sports participation. International guidelines, traditionally focused on disqualification of individuals with cardiac disease, have recently adopted a more liberal attitude, based on a careful assessment of the risk and on a shared-decision making approach.
Keywords: athlete; autopsy; inherited cardiac conditions; sudden cardiac death.