The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA) recently updated their guidelines on ‘Eligibility and Disqualification Recommendations for Competitive Athletes with Cardiovascular Abnormalities’.

With respect to Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a matter obviously close to my own heart and the single most common cause of sudden death in young competitive athletes in the United States, the new disqualification/eligibility guidelines do not differ that much from those originally stated in the 36th Bestheda Conference 2005.

However, I am very pleased to see greater recognition of patient/athlete autonomy in decision-making processes, with a shift away from adopting a solely “team physician medical judgment model” towards an “athlete informed consent model” specifically mentioned in the guidelines.

So while the guidelines for HCM are still prudent, the Task Force recognized the variable expression of HCM in individuals and now:

“[the] recommendations do not strictly exclude in absolute terms fully informed athletes from participating in competitive athletic programs as long as such a decision is ultimately made in concert with their physician and third-party interests (eg, high schools and colleges) … there will always be tolerance in the system for some degree of flexibility, individual responsibility, and choice in making these decisions for individual student athlete-patients.”

This is really good news!

Note that Australia does not have a similar set of guidelines and the rate of sudden cardiac death in young athletes in the Australian population remains unknown (according to the Baker IDI).

For more information, including recommendations for competitive athletes with other heart conditions, access the complete 2015 Guidelines here:

Posted by Kara Gilbert @ KMG Communications.

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