In recent years there has been increasing recognition of the effects that exercise can have on the heart. There is clear evidence of the benefits of regular exercise on heart health, but there has also been a focus on the potential risks of exercise in some individuals. The cardiac subspecialty of Sports Cardiology has grown internationally and the Sports Cardiology team at St Vincent’s Heart Centre of A/Professor David Prior, Dr Andre La Gerche and Dr Maria Brosnan are recognised internationally as experts in this field. They have been providing sports cardiology services to a wide variety of Australian athletes including elite and professional sports men and women in athletics, cycling, soccer, rowing, rugby and AFL football as well as to recreational athletes.
Sports Cardiology involves the assessment and management of athletes with symptoms which may reflect underlying cardiac problems. These include chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or palpitations. Another important aspect of our sports cardiology clinic is the management of athletes or exercise enthusiasts who are known to have cardiac disease, but wish to exercise safely. Additionally, pre-participation screening for early identification of cardiovascular diseases is frequently undertaken in elite sport, and this requires specialist expertise to interpret findings from screening and advice on management. Athletes may also require specific testing modalities and techniques not widely available in addition to specific expertise in evaluation of the athlete’s heart.
Sporting club services
The Heart Centre can also provide mobile services for recording of ECGs for sporting clubs, in addition to the state of the art facilities onsite which can provide echocardiography, ECG’s, stress testing and ambulatory ECG monitoring for professional, elite and recreational athletes.
Referral is by medical practitioner. Please contact Heart Centre Reception on 9231 3000 for any information or to make a referral.
Sports cardiology services
Sports Cardiology services available at St Vincent’s Heart Centre include:
- ECG, a simple test which looks at the electrical conduction pathways around the heart and can often diagnose an underlying heart muscle or heart rhythm abnormality.
- Ambulatory ECG (Holter) monitoring, where the heart rhythm is measured continuously for a 24 or 48 hour period to identify abnormal heart rhythms.
- Exercise stress testing, a test which examines heart rhythm during treadmill exercise and may help to identify heart artery disease.
- Cardiopulmonary exercise stress test, a more complex test that looks at how the heart, lungs and muscles react to exercise performed with a stationary bicycle or whilst walking on a treadmill. This test measures how much air is breathed, how much oxygen is needed and how fast and efficiently the heart beats during exercise.
- Echocardiogram,a detailed assessment of the structure and function of the heart using ultrasound. It allows for precise measurement of heart chamber size, assessment of heart valves and adjacent blood vessels. This test is usually reserved for athletes with an abnormal ECG, concerning symptoms, or positive family history. However, some professional sporting organisations, such as the UCI (International Cycling Union) include an echocardiogram as part of their yearly or 2nd yearly medical for all athletes.
- Stress echocardiogram, where cardiac ultrasound and exercise stress are combined to detect abnormalities of heart function during exercise.
- Clinical cardiovascular examinationand review of athletes with symptoms and/or abnormal screening investigation findings by an experienced cardiologist.
Consultant medical staff
Dr Andre La Gerche, A/Professor David Prior, Dr Maria Brosnan
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