Are you fit to play?
You are more likely to be healthy if you remain active. Yet, while there is no doubt exercise is good for your heart, there is a very small risk of sudden cardiac arrest occurring, especially in mature-age sports men and women.
Keep your health in check by considering the following simple checklist at the start of every season, or before commencing intense exercise. Remember…
P – past medical history. Do you have a history of heart problems or other significant medical concerns?
R – risk factors. Are you a smoker, exercise fewer than 30 minutes three times a week, are overweight or have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes? And do you have a family history of heart conditions?
E – exercise-induced symptoms. Do you suffer heart palpitations, excessive breathlessness, dizziness or fatigue with exercise? Or perhaps chest/arm/throat pain or tightness?
P – player green light. Have you been given the go ahead to play by your doctor if you are a male older than 45 years or a female over 55 and have any or a combo of the above factors? Has your blood pressure and cholesterol also been checked? You can play when you get the ok.
If you experience, or are aware of, any of the above, please see your GP before participating in training or competition. Be sure to see your GP for review if you are unaware of your blood pressure, blood sugar level or cholesterol profile.
If you don’t have any of the above symptoms, a family history of heart conditions or a combination of risk factors, you should be able to proceed with competition. Note that an exercise program which gradually increases in frequency and intensity before competition has been associated with a reduced risk of sudden cardiac death.
If you suspect or know you have any of the above risks, you may need a full medical review before taking part in sport. This may include:
- a careful history in search of cardiac symptoms and/or family history of heart disease
- physical assessment of your pulse, blood pressure, heart murmurs, carotid artery narrowing
- clinical assessment for rare, but potentially dangerous, heart conditions including dynamic murmurs (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) and radio femoral delay (aortic coarctation) features of Marfan syndrome
- blood glucose and cholesterol profiles.
If there are any clinical concerns or a combination of risk factors for coronary artery disease, your GP may arrange specialist cardiac review. ECG screening is a controversial area, but it has been recommended in some parts of the world, especially in elite level sporting programs.
Here are helpful downloadable documents that will provide you with Health, What to Do and What You Need to Know checklists.
Medical Checklist link: