The Use of Echocardiography in Disease Detection among Athletes: Instilling Pre-Participation Screening Requirements in Competitive Sports Within society, athletes are perceived to be individuals with above-average capabilities who have the tendency to reach extraordinary physical milestones. Athletes who thrive to reach their maximum potential in athletic abilities are exposing themselves to the risk of cardiovascular complications. Studies have revealed that intense athletic training and physical strain can indeed cause alterations in the cardiovascular system. The detection of these changes can be easily accessed through the use of echocardiography. This non-invasive test can be a preliminary detector of whether or not an individual is prone to developing cardiovascular diseases. Using echocardiography can prevent high-risk individuals from the potential exposure to the development of cardiovascular complications. Doctors of Medicine Maron and Pelliccia (2006) ratify that “The advent of echocardiography more than 30 years ago provided a noninvasive quantitative assessment of cardiac remodeling associated with systematic training” (abstract section, para. 1). To support the idea that echocardiograms should be performed on athletes as a precautionary measure to determine whether an athlete is at high risk for developing cardiovascular irregularities, the following key questions will be answered throughout this essay:
1. What kind of cardiovascular risks do athletes face?
2. What is an echocardiogram and how can it improve pre-screening for cardiovascular diseases?
3. Is the current protocol for health screening athletes effective?
Understanding the importance of screening, diagnosing, and treating athletes for cardiovascular diseases can reduce the risk of complications occurring. This essay highlights the prominence of using echocardiographic technology to pre-screen athletes.
What Kind of Cardiovascular Risks do Athletes Face?
It is a common misconception that athletes who participate in rigorous physical training are not placing themselves at risk for cardiovascular diseases but rather improving the fundamental functions of the heart. Throughout the last several decades occurrences of sudden cardiac death (SED) have become a topic of discussion among doctors and researchers. The occurrence of this event among athletes has brought on the debate whether or not athletes should undergo a pre-screening process before they are granted permission to participate in sports. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, an estimated 2000 individuals under the age of 25 die each year in the United States due to sudden cardiac death (as cited in O’Connor, 2012, para. 1). Anahad O’Connor (2012) confirms that athletes who participate in competitive sports are at a much greater risk for being plagued with sudden cardiac death. Individuals who participate in systematic athletic training are inducing the condition known as athlete’s heart. According to Maron and Pelliccia (2006) this condition can be defined as “Athlete’s heart is generally regarded as a benign increase in cardiac