Cardiovascular diseases in Paralympic athletes

Antonio Pelliccia, Filippo M. Quattrini, Maria Rosaria Squeo, Stefano Caselli, Franco Culasso, Mark S. Link, Antonio Spataro, Marco Bernardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background Sport participation (SP) of individuals with impairments has recently grown exponentially. Scarce scientific data, however, exist regarding cardiovascular (CV) risk associated with competitive SP. Objective Assessing the prevalence of CV abnormalities and the risk for SP in Paralympic athletes (PA). Methods PA (n=267; 76% men), aged 35±9 years, engaged in 18 sport disciplines, with a spectrum of lesions including: spinal cord injury (paraplegia and spina bifida) (n=116); amputation, poliomyelitis, cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular and/or skeletal disorders (Les autres) or visual impairment (n=151) entered the study. CV evaluation included history, PE, 12-lead and exercise ECG, echocardiography. Of these, 105 participated in ≥2 consecutive games, and had evaluations available over a 6±4 year follow-up. Results Structural CV abnormalities were identified in 33 athletes (12%), including arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathies in 3, aortic root dilation in 3, valvular diseases in 7 (mitral valve prolapse in 4, bicuspid aortic valve in 3) and systemic hypertension in 11 (4%). In addition, ventricular (polymorphic, couplets or non-sustained ventricular tachycardia) or supraventricular tachyarrhythmias (atrial flutter, paroxysmal atrial fibrillation or SVT) were identified in 9 others. Over a 6-year follow-up, 6 of the 105 athletes (6%) developed CV diseases, including dilated cardiomyopathy in 1 and systemic hypertension in 5. Conclusions PA present an unexpected high prevalence of CV abnormalities (12%), including a non-trivial proportion of diseases at risk for sudden death (2%), such as arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathies and dilated aortic root. This observation suggests that tailored recommendations for preparticipation screening and safe SP in this special athletic population are timely and appropriate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1075-1080
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Sports Medicine
Volume50
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2016

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Keywords

  • Athlete
  • Disabled
  • Heart disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

Cite this

Pelliccia, A., Quattrini, F. M., Squeo, M. R., Caselli, S., Culasso, F., Link, M. S., ... Bernardi, M. (2016). Cardiovascular diseases in Paralympic athletes. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 50(17), 1075-1080. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2015-095867