The risk of heart or cardiac attack mortality death among NBA athletes belonging to black or African American race
Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center, New York, the United States in collaboration with the NBA have found that the physical training program involved in being a basketball player was the root problem for the increased heart disease risks after they retire. Even though doctors at the NBA know the development of heart diseases in some players with their training program, they failed in identifying high heart or cardiac risk players.
Researchers found that the intense NBA training to a player causes physical changes in their heart, especially among the physically large or big player. It is very difficult for doctors to determine whether their hearts are athletic or abnormal. Heart health guidelines do exist for NBA athletes, but researchers say these guidelines are not useful to black NBA athletes as those guidelines were not created with a focus on them.
NBA-affiliated physicians have done a two-year long study. They have collected data related to stress echocardiogram (also called as stress echo or echocardiography stress test) and electrocardiograph (ECG) of 519 NBA players and draft prospects. The average age of the player was 24.8 years and 78.8 percent of the players belonged to African American race. This information helped physicians in investigating abnormalities in size and shape of the heart and functioning of the heart of each player.
Researchers have found physiologic, training-related ECG changes in players hearts with athletic training among 89 percent or 462 athletes. Current heart health guidelines did not account for these abnormal ECG results. They also found likely ECG abnormalities among NBA athletes aged between 27 to 39 years compared to those NBA players aged between 18 and 22 years. Abnormal ECG results were found to be 11.4 percent in African American athletes when compared to 5.3 percent in white athletes even after multiple changes in ECG interpretation criteria.
As the current guidelines were prepared with white athletes in mind, NBA physicians were unable to identify which player was exhibiting heart problems with NBA physical training program.
Authors say even though all ethnic groups share common heart health risk factors, there is a small difference in hearts of African American athletes compared to white athletes. Authors suggest other criteria for the evaluation of African American or black athletes for the estimation risk of heart or cardiac attack, mortality or death. Review of heart health criteria for NBA basketball players is important to prevent false positives among African American athletes.
Authors also say there is a need to conduct an investigation with a larger cohort of black or African American athletes in developing ECG criteria to define normal and abnormal ECG and for developing screening tests which can help in predicting precisely risk of cardiac disease, mortality or death in them.
The author of the investigation was Dr. Marc P. Waase, MD, PhD, electrophysiology fellow at Columbia University Medical Center, New York, the United States. The study findings were published December 6, 2017, in the JAMA Cardiology. Title of the article was "Electrocardiographic Findings in National Basketball Association Athletes."
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Published by Jammi Vasista, Chennai, India.