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Athletes with arrhythmias: Clinical manifestations and diagnostic evaluation

Mark S Link, MD
Antonio Pelliccia, MD
Section Editors
Scott Manaker, MD, PhD
Peter J Zimetbaum, MD
Deputy Editor
Brian C Downey, MD, FACC


As with the population in general, arrhythmias are not infrequently documented in athletes and can result in significant symptoms and impaired athletic performance. Rarely are arrhythmias fatal; however, sudden cardiac death (SCD) resulting from a malignant ventricular tachyarrhythmia is a devastating event, particularly in young and apparently healthy persons.  

This topic will discuss the clinical manifestations and diagnostic evaluation of athletes with specific arrhythmias or arrhythmia-related syndromes. The treatment of arrhythmias in athletes, along with the discussion of returning to competition/participation, is discussed in detail separately. Additionally, the risk of sudden death in athletes and the approach to screening to prevent sudden death in athletes are discussed elsewhere. (See "Athletes with arrhythmias: Treatment and returning to athletic participation" and "Athletes: Risk of sudden cardiac death" and "Electrocardiographic abnormalities and conduction disturbances in athletes" and "Screening to prevent sudden cardiac death in athletes".)


When present, symptoms should be evaluated to determine whether any action needs to be taken. Arrhythmic symptoms may be related to the arrhythmia itself (eg, palpitations) or due to the hemodynamic consequences of the arrhythmias (eg, dyspnea, dizziness). Patients with an arrhythmia can present with a variety of symptoms, including:


Syncope or presyncope

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jul 27, 2017.
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