Sometimes, an athlete—seemingly in peak physical condition—experiences sudden cardiac arrest on the playing field due to an undiagnosed heart condition. Yale Medicine’s Sports Cardiology Program is dedicated to preventing such tragedies through comprehensive screening, evaluation, and management of cardiovascular disease in athletes.
The Sports Cardiology Program brings a multidisciplinary approach to the identification and treatment of potentially life-threatening cardiac abnormalities in athletes.
The program provides two distinct services:
Pre-participation screening of college and university athletes to detect any potential abnormalities before they compete
Consultation and care for athletes of any age who either have known cardiovascular disease or who have symptoms that could be related to cardiovascular disease
Yale Medicine specialists begin with an electrocardiogram (ECG), which records the electrical activity of the heart, to check for a variety of cardiac conditions. When screening college and university athletes, Yale experts interpret the ECG, offer recommendations for follow-up care, if needed, and work closely with the school to monitor and advise the athlete going forward. Yale physicians have been performing ECG screenings for Yale University athletes since 2015. With the launch of the Sports Cardiology Program, Yale Medicine is now performing screenings for athletes at three local universities, as well as the Connecticut Whale women’s professional hockey team.
In addition to a pre-participation screening of college athletes, the Sports Cardiology Program provides ongoing clinical care for athletes of any age (including children) who have a known cardiac condition or symptoms that may indicate cardiac abnormalities, such as passing out or palpitations. In both cases, the goal is to develop an effective diagnosis, treatment, and management strategy for the athlete and provide recommendations on whether and how the athlete can safely participate in competitive sports.
The foundation of Yale Medicine’s program is its multidisciplinary approach to these issues. A team of experts from many specialty areas works together to provide comprehensive, integrated services and holistic care for athletes.
The program’s director, Rachel Lampert, MD, is a sports cardiologist, electrophysiologist, and arrhythmia specialist who frequently writes and speaks on preventing sudden cardiac arrest in athletes. Dr. Lampert has conducted extensive research in this area, including studies on whether athletes with implanted defibrillators can safely participate in sports. The Sports Cardiology Program also features imaging teams that use highly specialized diagnostic tools such as cardiac MRIs and echocardiography. The team also includes experts in adult and pediatric arrhythmia, cardiac channelopathies, cardiomyopathy, genetic cardiovascular diseases, and more.
In addition, Dr. Lampert and her team frequently partner with Yale’s Sports Medicine Program, a section within the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation. They also have an ongoing partnership with In a Heartbeat, a foundation that works to prevent deaths from sudden cardiac arrest by raising awareness, enabling research, and donating ECGs and automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to places that need them.