Vital signs and demographics in the preparticipation sports exam: do they help us find the elusive athlete at risk for sudden cardiac death?

Curr Sports Med Rep. 2010 Nov-Dec;9(6):338-41. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e3182014ed6.


Much attention recently has been paid to the detection of those young athletes who may be at risk for sudden cardiac death (SCD) in sports participation. In this article, we attempt to summarize the remarkably few studies that examine the question of whether vital signs and basic demographics are associated with athletes at risk for SCD. Historical items such as chest pain, dyspnea, and palpitations are not reviewed. The only demographics mentioned in the literature as associated with SCD are being of the male gender, which is associated highly with SCD, and being African-American. Most notably, we were unable to find even prospective data asking the question of whether resting pulse, blood pressure, height, weight, and age are potential risk factors. Therefore, we also have included recent data from our own research to make this summary more complete.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / epidemiology*
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Physical Examination / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sports / statistics & numerical data*
  • Vital Signs*
  • Young Adult