Cardiovascular Screening of Elite Athletes by Sporting Organizations in Australia: A Survey of Chief Medical Officers

Jessica J. Orchard, John W. Orchard, Brett Toresdahl, Irfan M. Asif, David Hughes, Andre La Gerche, Christopher Semsarian

Research output: Contribution to journalShort Survey/Scientific Reportpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To compare cardiovascular screening policies of Australian elite sporting organizations. DESIGN: Online survey. SETTING: Elite/professional sports in Australia. PARTICIPANTS: Chief medical officers (CMOs) of elite/professional sports in Australia, including rugby union and league, cricket, tennis, Australian football, and cycling. ASSESSMENT OF VARIABLES: Survey questions about each sport's cardiac screening policy: which screening components were included [eg, history and physical (H&P), resting 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG)], whether screening was mandatory, whether the policy applied to elite junior and/or adult players, and which criteria were used to interpret ECGs. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Which sports had a formal cardiac screening policy, which athletes the policy applied to, components of screening, ECG interpretation criteria used. RESULTS: Chief medical officers for 22/31 (71%) sports responded, representing >5000 athletes. Of these, 19/22 (86%) perform regular screening (100% H&P; 89% included ECG) with international cyclists also having routine echocardiograms and stress testing. Thirty-three percent of CMOs used the 2017 International Criteria for athlete ECG interpretation. Screening was mandatory with enforcement (26%), mandatory without enforcement (48%), and opt-out (26%). All screened adult elite athletes, and 68% screened junior elite athletes. Forty-two percent indicated athletes were required to pay for screening tests, and 63% required athletes to pay for follow-up tests. Almost all (94%) sports with a sports physician as the CMO screened athletes. CONCLUSIONS: Most sports have a screening policy, with reasonable uniformity of components. All included H&P, and almost all included ECG. Only one sport included an echocardiogram and stress test as a standard (international players only). Promoting the latest ECG interpretation criteria may reduce false-positives and cost. Future work should explore cardiac emergency plans, screening infrastructure, cost, and long-term follow-up.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-406
Number of pages6
JournalClinical journal of sport medicine : official journal of the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes


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