When you have or think you have a heart condition, you may worry about exercising or playing sports safely. Additionally, symptoms of a heart condition, like shortness of breath or chest pain, can make physical activity more difficult.
At RUSH, our sports cardiologists offer you guidance to start, continue or return to the physical activities you love — safely.
We start by doing a thorough evaluation to get to the root cause of your symptoms. Then we make a shared decision with you on how to treat the problems holding you back from peak performance.
Who Would Benefit from Sports Cardiology?
RUSH sports cardiologists see a range of patients at all levels of physical activity. This includes athletes of all ages, active adults and those looking to get back into an active lifestyle.
These are some reasons sports cardiology may be right for you:
- You are an athlete, and you need a required cardiac screening for participation.
- You are an athlete or active adult with symptoms that affect your performance.
- You are an athlete or active adult with a family history of heart and vascular problems.
- You are an athlete or active adult recovering from a cardiac event, like a heart attack. Or, you are managing a heart condition, like arrhythmia.
- You are concerned about how a certain physical activity may affect your heart health.
When to Seek Sports Cardiology Care
If you’re experiencing symptoms that make physical activity difficult, we can get to the bottom of what’s causing them. And we can help relieve your symptoms so you can perform at your best. These symptoms could include the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Feeling lightheaded
- Irregular heartbeat, like palpitations (fast heart rate)
If you are active with risk factors, we’ll help reduce your risk of heart attack or other cardiac events. These cardiac risk factors could include the following:
- Family history of heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- History of smoking
A Diagnosis You Can Count On
The first step in sports cardiology treatment is getting a full understanding of your heart health. Our sports cardiologists start with guiding you through a questionnaire. They’ll then order the appropriate tests.
At your first appointment, you can expect to discuss your overall health history with your sports cardiologist. The questions may cover some of the following information:
- Your history with playing sports
- Any known heart and valve conditions
- Your overall diet and current or past nutritional plans you’ve followed
- Any supplements you take, whether currently or previously
Heart and Lung Tests
Your sports cardiologist may schedule follow-up tests to detect what’s causing your symptoms. Depending on your symptoms, goals or health history, this may include the following tests:
- Cardiopulmonary exercise stress test: A specialized stress test that involves exercise with a treadmill or weights. This test pinpoints how and when your symptoms occur by monitoring your heart and lung activity during peak performance.
- Echocardiogram: An ultrasound test that uses sound waves to generate images of your heart. This test shows if there are any problems with your heart valves.
- Angiogram: A procedure involving dye that is injected through a catheter into your blood vessels. This test shows how blood flows through your heart and can reveal any blockages.
- Electrophysiology study: A procedure involving small wire electrodes threaded through a vein to reach your heart. This study can detect arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat).
A Treatment Plan for Your Physical Activity Goals
At RUSH, your performance goals are our performance goals — first and foremost. Our sports cardiologists work with you to help you reach them safely.
Depending on your physical activity goals and evaluation, your treatment plan may include the following:
- Recommendations for avoiding heart or lung problems
- Procedures to open blockages in heart arteries
- Procedures to correct heart arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation (AFib)
RUSH Excellence in Sports Cardiology
- Dedicated team: Our sports cardiologists work with other RUSH heart specialists, including general cardiologists and electrophysiologists (experts in arrhythmias). Together, they share expertise to diagnose your symptoms and determine the best treatment options for you. They also coordinate to schedule any interventional procedures you might need in a timely manner.
- Unmatched expertise: Our sports cardiologists also specialize in exercise physiology. This means they are specifically trained to analyze and evaluate heart and lung tests in ways that others can’t. Our focus is to help you continue doing the activities you enjoy as safely as possible.
- Continuous care: Our sports cardiologists don’t sit on the sidelines after they provide you treatment. Every few months, we check in on your progress toward reaching your goals for physical activity. If need be, we schedule follow-up testing and adjust your care plan to help you continue to progress and improve.
- Collaboration with sports medicine: RUSH sports cardiologists often collaborate with Rush’s renowned sports medicine providers. Together, we can provide comprehensive care for athletes and active adults.