The majority of sudden deaths in young athletes occur in the context of underlying inherited or genetic cardiac disorders. The evaluation of every athlete regarding underlying cardiac disease is impractical and therefore needs to be targeted at those who are at a higher risk. A practical approach would be to channel efforts towards athletes with cardiac symptoms, those with a family history of inherited cardiac disease, and those with a family history of premature sudden death. There are potential pitfalls in the evaluation of young athletes using non-invasive tests when making the distinction between physiological adaptations to exercise and cardiac pathology. Physicians evaluating young athletes need to be aware of the spectrum of physiological adaptations and to be familiar with conditions responsible for sudden death in this population.
Keywords: young athlete, sudden death, cardiovascular evaluation, competitive sports, cardiomyopathy