The aim was to assess the utility and feasibility of a comprehensive cardiac screening protocol in young athletes before participation in sports. A total of 380 athletes referring before participation in sports, between April, 2014 and April, 2015, were included in this study. The mean age was 12.4 years. A screening protocol has been applied to all, including personal and family history, physical examination, 12-lead electrocardiography, transthoracic echocardiography, 24-hour rhythm Holter analysis, and treadmill exercise test. The most frequent complaints were chest pain in 19 (5%), dyspnoea in 13 (3.4%), and dizziness and fainting in five patients (1.3%) on exercise. There was sudden death and arrhythmia in 41 patients (10.7%) owing to family history. Heart murmur was present in 20 (5.2%) and hypertension in 10 patients (2.6%) on physical examination. The 12-lead electrocardiography was abnormal in 9 patients (2.4%). The findings of transthoracic echocardiography were insignificant in 47 patients (12.3%) and in five patients (1.3%) a haemodynamically important condition was detected. The 24-hour rhythm Holter analysis was abnormal in six patients (1.5%). There were significant ST changes in two patients (0.5%) on treadmill exercise test with normal findings on myocardial perfusion scans. No significant relation was present between findings of screening protocol and transthoracic echocardiography, 24-hour rhythm Holter analysis, or treadmill exercise test results.
Pre-participation screening in young athletes should consist of a targeted personal history, family history, physical examination, and 12-lead electrocardiography. Other tests should be applied only if the screening indicates the presence of a cardiovascular disease.