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Incidence of Sudden Cardiac Death in National Collegiate Athletic Association Athletes

A publication commented by Erik E. Solberg, EACPR Sports Cardiology Section

Incidence of Sudden Cardiac Death in National Collegiate Athletic Association Athletes
Kimberly G. Harmon, MD; Irfan M. Asif, MD; David Klossner, ATC, PhD; Jonathan A. Drezner, MD
Circulation. 2011;123:1594-1600

Previously, it has been stated that the incidence of sudden cardiac death in sports in the young has been higher in Europe than in the US. Recent research, including this article by K. Harmon and collaborators, shows that this is not necessarily so.

By using improved search criteria going beyond the solely use of media reports for death incidence, the authors found that the incidence was 1:43000 among college athletes, similar to the Italian incidence figures. This large study, examining 1.9 million athlete participant-years, found even higher incidence in some subpopulations, especially in basketball. Also, a higher incidence was found among blacks and in the premier division. 

This important paper adds information about increased magnitude of sudden death in sports and which type of sports and race are more vulnerable. It also upgrades the risk for women. All of these are important for the common goal to prevent sudden deaths in athletes better.