In This Article
- A team of Mass General clinicians recently released a core curriculum for sports cardiology
- Rory Weiner, MD, and Meagan Wasfy, MD, speak to the importance of adopting this curriculum
- They discuss the framework that may provide guidance for the inclusion of sports cardiology in existing cardiovascular training and board certification requirements
A team from Mass General’s Cardiovascular Performance Program has defined a curriculum to address the rising number of competitive athletes and highly active people (CAHAP) who may be at increased risk of cardiovascular (CV) events.
Q: Where does the need for this core curriculum stem from?
Wasfy: Fortunately, there has been increased recognition that addressing the cardiovascular care needs of the CAHAP population requires a unique skill set. This has driven the development of sports cardiology as a specific field within our profession.
However, prior to this important document, there had been no summary of the necessary skills to comprehensively address the cardiovascular care needs of CAHAP. This document communicates to our colleagues and trainees what constitute the core aspects of our field, and should help guide the development of training and educational opportunities for those interested in joining a CAHAP care team.
Q: Why have multidisciplinary teams treating CAHAP not incorporated a cardiovascular specialist in the past?
Weiner: Historically, clinical care for CAHAP has been provided by multidisciplinary teams consisting of athletic trainers, physical therapists, primary care sports medicine physicians and orthopedic surgeons. More recently, there has been a growing appreciation for the need for dedicated cardiovascular specialists to be part of this team.
Cardiologists provide an integral role in pre-participation cardiovascular disease screening (interpretation of diagnostic testing, which includes electrocardiography [ECG] and imaging tests) as well as evaluation of athletes with suspected and confirmed cardiovascular disease.
Q: What steps should an individual who wants to practice effective sports cardiology take?
Wasfy: This document is a great first step, because practicing cardiologists and trainees alike can use it to identify the skills they need to enter this field.
Thereafter, those interested in developing these skills further should identify appropriate educational opportunities. There are formal educational opportunities such as the Mass General Cardiovascular Performance Program fellowship or programs at both the American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions and the ACC Care of the Athletic Heart course.
Those who want to learn a specific skill, such as how to run an effective pre-participation screening program or how to develop an exercise testing lab customized to the needs of CAHAP, may also benefit from visiting an established comprehensive sports cardiology program.
Q: How do you apply this core curriculum to the Mass General Cardiovascular Performance Program?
Weiner: Components of this core curriculum are applied in the Mass General Cardiovascular Performance Program daily. Here are a few examples:
- Each week, new patients are reviewed in a team meeting to help determine consensus for management strategies in challenging clinical situations. This involves the Cardiovascular Performance Program cardiac fellows, who are being trained to become future leaders in sports cardiology
- Pre-participation screening of CV athletes is a focal point for the Mass General Cardiovascular Performance Program through collaborations with universities and professional sports teams.
- The program is also committed to advancing scientific discovery in sports cardiology, evidenced by the numerous research grants and original research publications that have been generated by our physicians and fellows.
Does your institution have an established sports cardiology program? Share your best practices in the comments section below.