For many children, sports are an integral part of childhood and adolescence. But if a child lives with or develops heart disease, parents are understandably concerned about how safe it is for their children to play sports.
The Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. It is not an endorsement of any product or service outside of Cleveland Clinic.policy
Akash Patel, MD, a pediatric cardiologist/electrophysiologist, says many factors go into determining whether a child can (or can’t) play a particular sport.
“We’ve learned that by creating a proper safety net for our children, we can often allow them more freedom to participate in sports,” he says. There are unique situations where we would like them to avoid sports or adjust the sports environment to be as safe as possible.
Can children with heart disease play sports?
Dr. Patel says participation in sports generally depends on the specific heart condition the child lives with. Children with the same diagnosis may have different symptoms and more serious conditions.
Takes cardiomyopathy, or a condition that affects the heart muscle. These can cause the heart to harden, develop scar tissue, and become enlarged or thickened.
“We know that people with this diagnosis who play sports are at increased risk of having sudden cardiac arrest during activity.”
“But not all children diagnosed with cardiomyopathy are the same. So there are situations where they can play certain types of sports or engage in certain levels of activity.”
In general, children with heart disease or who have had heart surgery do not need additional protective equipment, no matter what sport they play. Is not … For example, in baseball you are allowed to be a catcher, but you are not allowed to be a first baseman.
However, Dr. Patel says certain children may not have been given the green light for all sports. “We tell people to avoid contact sports,” says Dr. Patel. We want to minimize the risk of injury, which changes the sport they can play.”
Guidance on people who cannot play sports may also change over time. For example, historically, children with hereditary arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats were restricted from playing sports.
Precautions before playing sports
In light of the above, Dr. Patel says there are precautions that parents, children, schools and doctors can discuss before starting sports. “We want to identify children who may be at risk of having an event,” he said. “And we want to identify them before that event occurs.”
Pre-participation cardiac screening
One of the most important steps children can take is to undergo a pre-participation cardiac screening in addition to a physical examination. For athletes diagnosed with heart disease, this screening is typically done in collaboration with cardiologists and primary care providers.
“It gives specific information about what sports can be played, how they should be played, when and how they should be restricted, and all kinds of safety precautions that must be taken in playing the sport. “We often prescribe,” explains Dr. Patel. “Because we are focused on the heart, cardiologists work with primary care providers.” It’s what allows kids to get back into sports.'”
This screening is important because athletes who experience sudden cardiac arrest can die. These tragic events are rare, occurring in 1 in 50,000 to 1 in 300,000 he, but they do occur.
“Unfortunately, there are situations where these events can still occur despite the best screening,” says Dr. Patel. “One of the important things families should always keep in mind. is ‘how to create the safest environment for children to host events’.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
Another layer of protection for children with heart disease is having someone close to them who knows CPR. “Knowing CPR is a great life skill everyone should have,” Dr. Patel advises. “However, we tell families who have a child with heart disease that everyone who cares for the child, e.g. parents, babysitters, nannies, should learn CPR for her.”
For athletes with heart disease, families can take additional steps to ensure that athletic coaches and trainers are also trained in CPR. “If a cardiac event occurs, he can provide CPR and hopefully resuscitate the child until the ambulance arrives,” Dr. Patel says.
Automated external defibrillator (AED)
In some cases, a cardiac event can occur that causes the heart rhythm to become abnormal and dangerous. An AED (automated external defibrillator) can shock the heart and return it to its normal rhythm.
“You should always do CPR,” says Dr. Patel. “It is a priority. But if you want to rescue a child from a dangerous situation with an abnormal heartbeat, it is very important to use the AED quickly. I can do it.”
Call 911 and the police, fire department, or EMS will bring a defibrillator to the scene. But today, more and more schools have AEDs available in the field.
“If you have a child who plays sports, it’s a good idea to check if the school has an AED and if so, where it is relative to the sports field,” Dr. Patel suggests. increase. The family may purchase her own AED if the school cannot provide one for her. “Although it is not needed in healthy children, it has been shown to benefit at-risk children.
For example, children with a condition called long QT syndrome, which affects the heart’s electrical system, should be near an AED. “We know if they’re on the right medication. Their electrocardiograms suggest they have low-risk function. We might allow them to play sports.” says Dr. Patel. “But they need to have AEDs available at sporting events and people around them know how to CPR.”
Ultimately, the decision to play (or not) play sports is a shared decision among families, children, doctors, and other health professionals.
“This means that parents and children are making this decision together with their school, their team and their doctors,” says Dr. Patel. , or parents need to create an environment in which they know how to perform CPR, and clearly rate their condition as low risk.
“Sport offers many benefits in terms of social-emotional development, teamwork, and sheer joy,” he adds. If they receive a rating indicating no concern, they are often allowed to play any sport.”