Sports cardiology helps patients get back in the game

May 28, 2021 | Jennifer O'Hara | @jenohara

Regular activity is good for the heart, but patients with heart conditions may wonder if it is safe to exercise. Mayo Clinic's Sports Cardiology Clinic is a specialty clinic where a team of cardiologists, exercise physiologists, and other specialists evaluate and treat heart conditions with a goal of keeping athletes active in sports.

But who could benefit from sports cardiology?

"We're trying to target three different types of patients," says Dr. Brian Shapiro, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist. "Of course, that elite athlete, whether it be professional, collegiate or even high school, as we're able to see patients from 15 years and older. Second, the weekend warriors — people who want to get out there and start running again, or biking, doing triathlons and things of this nature. And, finally, those patients who may actually have cardiac disease and have never worked out."

The Sports Cardiology Clinic also can advise patients how to improve training and performance. The evaluation involves a stress test.

"A cardiopulmonary stress test is the cornerstone of the evaluation we will do with these patients," says Dr. Bryan Taylor, a Mayo Clinic cardiopulmonary exercise physiologist. "We are trying to do two things. One, we're trying to understand the baseline level of fitness of the overall heart and lung and musculoskeletal fitness the person has. But the stress test is also a first sweep where potential issues might be identified. And we can understand if exercise is limited, is it due to a heart condition or a lung condition or something else?"

On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Shapiro and Dr. Taylor discuss sports cardiology evaluation, monitoring and treatment options.

To practice safe social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, this interview was conducted using video conferencing. The sound and video quality are representative of the technology used. For the safety of its patients, staff and visitors, Mayo Clinic has strict masking policies in place. Anyone shown without a mask was recorded prior to COVID-19 or recorded in an area not designated for patient care, where social distancing and other safety protocols were followed.

Read the full transcript.

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Information in this post was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding, along with guidelines and recommendations, may have changed since the original publication date.

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