Health Issues

Hosted by
San Diego Figure Skating Communications

Life Fitness & Health Issues
of Young Athletes

Sudden death of a young athletes
        Sudden death of a young athlete during competition is a tragic yet rare occurrence that creates a significant amount of media attention and causes fear in parents of athletes. The cause can be related to increased catecholamine response to maximum stress in subjects who have a preexisting underlying structural heart disease that is a well known cause of lethal cardiac arrhythmias. 

        In 1996, the American Heart Association issued a scientific statement advocating universal cardiovascular preparticipation screening for high school and college athletes in an attempt to identify those at increased risk of cardiovascular events. The recommendations included a 12 point complete history and physical examination (including brachial artery blood pressure measurement) before competitive sports (Table 1) and reserved noninvasive testing such as a 12-lead ECG, echocardiogram, exercise testing, and cardiovascular consultation for athletes in whom any abnormality was detected.  Table  2. Sudden Cardiovascular Death in Sports for All Participants at the Beginning of Competitive Activities Until 35 Years of Age.

Health Considerations

        Parents should inform doctors and coaches of possible problems because of a family history. Make life easy for physicians and high school officials by actually having a document of the medical history of both parents and the child.  The helps physicians and high school officials to asking the right questions that can prevent an unexpected tragedy at a practice or meet/competition.

        It is undisputed that a high percentage of athletes at risk for Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) can be identified or suspected from a screening ECG.  The most common cause of heart problems in the United States is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which is reliably identified by an ECG.  The ECG test is not perfect, it is intended only as the first test in the screening process. There are other conditions - coronary artery anomalies or catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia - that cannot be identified by the currently American Heart Association (AHA) 12-element system recommended screening.

       The decision to spend money on preventing, a limited number of potentially avoidable deaths in adolescents and young adults, is a priority determination that belongs in the hands of the parents and the school/parents health insurance policies.

       It is difficult to bringing the subject up on the child not being allowed to play a sport because of a heart condition that had previously be detected.

       The American Heart Association (AHA) issued guidelines aimed at helping doctors and coaches detect these problems early on and prevent such senseless deaths.

       The AHA's screening guidelines call for eight specific medical-history questions and four key elements in a physical exam, all designed to help doctors understand whether an athlete is at risk. Specifically, doctors need to ask athletes about chest pain during exercise, unexplained fainting and their family history of heart disease or early death before clearing them to play.

Screening for Heart Abnormalities in Student Athletes
       The American Heart Association (AHA) indicates that exact incidence of athletic deaths is not known, but it is considered to be a rare occurrence. The  The American Heart Association (AHA) estimates that sudden deaths occur in the range of 1:200,000 young people of high school age per year. The American Heart Association has published guidelines to help physicians.

12-step screening may help reduce sudden death in young athletes  American Heart Association scientific statement. March 12, 2007. Dallas, March 12, 2007 – A 12 point screening process could help reduce sudden cardiac Arrest.

Diseases and Injuries
         Many of the childhood illnesses and physical problems can be quickly diagnosed and treated. The following is a partial list of health concerns that children and young adults experience that continue to be issues that need to be addressed as we age:

  • Visual - symptoms, treatment - glasses or contact lens
  • Hearing - symptoms, treatment - hearing aid
  • Asthma - symptoms, treatment/medication, monitoring
  • Allergies - symptoms, treatment/medication, monitoring
  • Diabetes - symptoms, treatment/medication, counseling, diet, monitoring
  • Addiction
    • Alcohol Abuse use - symptoms, treatment/medication, counseling, monitoring
    • Early Diagnoses use - symptoms, treatment/medication, counseling, monitoring
    • Drug abuse of prescription and illegal medications - symptoms, treatment/counseling, monitoring
  • Eating Disorders
    • Bulimia - symptoms, treatment/medication, counseling, diet, monitoring
    • Anorexia - symptoms, treatment/medication, counseling, diet, monitoring
  • Personality Issues
    • Stress - symptoms, treatment/medication, counseling, monitoring
    • Anxiety - symptoms, treatment/medication, counseling, monitoring
    • Self-Esteem problems - symptoms, treatment/counseling, monitoring
The information on this site is provided to support skater's efforts to
achieve their full potential in the pursuit of his/her skating goals, and to transfer
those skills to their future education, career, and other life activities.

  Suggestions and comments from rink management, coaches,
  choreographers, judges, skaters, and parents are welcomed. 

Recommended Reading:

Health, Fitness, & Wellness Services

Feeding Your Child Athlete Nutritional Needs of Young Athletes; Drink Up! Pressures Facing Athletes; Game Day ... Eating for sports should be an extension of healthy eating for life. ... Similar performance issues can come up when kids try to increase their weight too fast.

PDF health concerns book 4.qxd series to promote the awareness of health issues related to ... Health Concerns For Young Athletes.

Protecting the health and safety of young athletes | Healing ... May 14, 2010 ... Many more young athletes would be screened for life threatening or disabling medical problems, if experts who spoke out today prevail,

Health & Injury Concerns

Health and Injury Issues

Pediatric Health and Injury Issues

PDF Athletes: Fit But Unhealthy How do we prevent a seemingly healthy and young athlete from dropping dead when some problem causes the heart to stop, a blood vessel clogs or some other pathology causes death?

Too Few Doctors Screen Young Athletes for Hidden Health Problems  In response, the American Heart Association (AHA) issued guidelines aimed at ... of the life-saving guidelines -- potentially leaving many young athletes at risk. ... One main cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart muscle becomes thickened. There are other causes as well, including potentially fatal heart rhythm abnormalities.


The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

Common Health Issues of Skaters
PDF  Prevention of Injuries
PDF  Skating in Bare Feet
PDF  Dealing with Stressful Situations
PDF  Sports Medicine Links
Life Health Issues

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