Health Watch - Athletics: Heart and Lungs

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about school sports and how student athletes can stay safe and healthy on the playing field or court. Previously, we discussed the importance of a thorough physical exam for athletes. Although we think of athletes as being in good shape, they need to be aware of signs of cardiopulmonary disease.

It seems as though hardly a sports season goes by without a young athlete dying or collapsing suddenly from an undiagnosed heart problem. That’s why Dr. Robert Dimeff, director of primary care sports medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says athletes should mention any new signs of cardiopulmonary disease during the annual physical exam. Symptoms to look out for include chest pain, pressure or tightness, shortness of breath, palpitations, fainting or near fainting or coughing or wheezing during or after exercise. These symptoms may need further evaluation. You should also let your doctor know about any family history of heart disease, especially if it occurred before age 50.

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September 2010


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