Safety of sports participation in patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators: a survey of heart rhythm society members

J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2006 Jan;17(1):11-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8167.2005.00331.x.


Safety of Sports for ICD Patients.

Introduction: The safety of sports participation for patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) is unknown, and recommendations among physicians may vary widely. The purposes of this study were to determine current practice among patients with ICDs and their physicians regarding sports participation, and to determine how many physicians have cared for patients who have sustained adverse events during sports participation.

Methods and results: A survey was mailed to all 1,687 U.S. physician members of the Heart Rhythm Society. Among 614 respondent physicians, recommendations varied widely. Only 10% recommended avoidance of all sports more vigorous than golf. Seventy-six percent recommended avoidance of contact, and 45% recommend avoidance of competitive sports. Most (71%) based restrictions on patients' underlying heart disease. Regardless of recommendations, most physicians (71%) reported caring for patients who participated in sports, including many citing vigorous, competitive sports, most commonly cited were basketball, running, and skiing. ICD shocks during sports were common, cited by 40% of physicians. However, few adverse consequences were reported. One percent of physicians reported known injury to patient (all but 3 minor); 5%, injury to the ICD system, and <1%, failure of shocks to terminate arrhythmia. The most common adverse event reported was lead damage attributed to repetitive-motion activities, most commonly weightlifting and golf.

Conclusions: Physician recommendations for sports participation for patients with ICDs varies widely. Many patients with ICDs do participate in vigorous and even competitive sports. While shocks were common, significant adverse events were rare.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Defibrillators, Implantable*
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Societies, Medical
  • Sports*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tachycardia / rehabilitation*