There is limited knowledge of athletes’ heart. No data is available regarding screening results from Nordic countries. In Norway there’s scarce data regarding ECG findings in trained athlete populations.
The present study evaluates cardiac screening among male Norwegian football players in the elite divisions, describing demographic data and electrocardiography (ECG). All results are compared to a control group.
The main aim of the study is to describe the hearts of Norwegian male athletes by applying patient history and ECG. The intermediate aims are 1) by applying our own data, define the male Norwegian athlete’s heart, and thereby verify the frequency of pathological findings and 2) to investigate if there are racial differences in the athlete’s heart in Norway.
The project included 594 football players in 28 of 30 eligible teams of the two Norwegian elite divisions and 43 age-matched controls. ECG was recorded at least one hour after physical activity on two modern technical digital ECG apparatus, type Cardioline RealClick ECG. An expert group in Oslo conducted common meetings as to interpret the most challenging ECG. They were responsible for approving the screening of the players and have registered some of the data in our project database.
The sections of sports cardiology of the European association of cardiovascular prevention and rehabilitation, and the working group of myocardial and pericardial disease of the European society of cardiology published their new recommendations for interpretation of 12-lead ECG in the athlete in December 2009. They classify the abnormalities in two groups; 1) common and training-related ECG changes and 2) uncommon and training-unrelated ECG-changes. The latter changes need work-up to exclude or confirm the suspicion of an underlying cardiovascular condition carrying the risk of sudden death during sports. We will interpret the ECGs according to these groups.
· Description of ECG variables in athletes compared to controls
· Description of ECG variables in Norwegian athletes compared to other nationalities
· Demographic data compared to findings
· Positive findings and recommended follow ups
Our results will contribute to the construction of upcoming definition of the athlete’s heart on a national and international basis.