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New Guidelines Open Competitive Sports to Some Athletes with Heart Conditions

New guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology have loosened some restrictions placed on competitive athletes with certain heart conditions.

Cardiologists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis led two of the task forces responsible for updating the guidelines that help doctors decide when it is safe for a heart patient to participate in competitive sports, from high school athletics to Olympic or professional-level competitions.

“We want people to be active, but we also want them to be safe,” said cardiologist Alan C. Braverman, MD, the Alumni Endowed Professor in Cardiovascular Diseases in the Department of Medicine, and a co-author of the guidelines. “The good news is sudden death in athletes is thankfully very rare. But there are certain types of cardiovascular diseases associated with that risk. The goal of these guidelines is to help doctors recognize when someone has an increased risk of sudden cardiac death and help change activity levels to lower that risk.”

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