Heart health is usually one of the benefits of being an athlete, dancer or active person. Even so, you can develop heart conditions, sometimes due to family history. At the Memorial Sports Medicine Center, our board-certified sports cardiologist provides specialized care to help you meet your performance goals while keeping your heart safe.
What Is Sports Cardiology?
Datasource: Ryker's sports cardiology story
Sports cardiology brings together cardiology (care for heart conditions) and sports medicine. Our team provides advanced treatment for heart conditions and symptoms, with a thorough understanding of how these problems can affect athletes and active people differently.
You don’t have to be a professional athlete or dancer to seek our care. We work with anyone who wants to stay active, treating people who:
- Experience symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, fainting or a decline in their ability to exercise or play sports
- Have a personal or family history of cardiovascular disease and want to both manage the condition and participate in physical activity or sports
- Received abnormal results from recent tests and need treatment or a second opinion
- Are recovering from a heart procedure or a cardiac event such as a heart attack
Learn more about the heart conditions we treat.
Why Choose Memorial for Sports Cardiology?
Our sports cardiology team receives referrals from South Florida and around the region because we offer:
- Sports cardiologist with athletic experience: Our sports cardiologist has done extensive training and research in the heart conditions that athletes have – and how they can affect active people differently. He’s also an athlete himself, having played at the Division I level in college. Our sports cardiologist and his team tailor care to meet your needs.
- Highly specialized heart care for athletes: Athletes turn to us for care because we understand their unique needs. Many cardiologists told Mike Lifshotz, an elite cyclist, that his heart symptoms were normal and that he might have to give up competing. Memorial provided specialized care so Mike could continue competing, safely. Read more about Mike’s experience.
- Comprehensive heart services: We offer services to help you get back to the activities you love. We provide clearances for sports participation as well as treat and manage all types of heart symptoms and conditions.
- Access to all specialists at Memorial: If you need more advanced treatment such as a heart procedure, we work with Memorial heart specialists. We coordinate your care with interventional cardiologists or electrophysiologists for minimally invasive procedures such as cardiac catheterization. Learn more about our heart and vascular treatments.
- Integrated support services: Our team includes a sports nutritionist, a sports psychologist, and physical and occupational therapists, all within one program. Memorial also offers specialized cardiac rehabilitation for people recovering from a cardiac event or treatment.
Sports Cardiology: Our Diagnostic Process
In our evaluation, we:
- Screen you to identify any potential cardiovascular conditions
- Conduct a complete physical exam
- Discuss your personal and family medical history
- Review your symptoms
- Discuss your sports and activity history
You may need further testing to rule out other conditions or confirm a diagnosis:
- Blood tests check for signs of inflammation, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or other issues that can affect the heart.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) uses electrodes attached to your chest to evaluate the heart’s electrical activity for abnormal heart rhythms or signs of heart damage.
- Exercise stress test measures the heart’s electrical activity as you walk and run on a treadmill with ECG electrodes attached to your chest.
- Metabolic exercise stress test evaluates heart and lung function as you wear ECG electrodes and breathe into a face mask while walking and running on a treadmill.
- Holter monitor, a portable device, records the heart’s electrical activity for 24 hours to detect any heart rate abnormalities during everyday activities, exercise or sports performance.
- Electrophysiology studies evaluate the heart’s electrical activity to locate the source of an irregular heartbeat or help determine appropriate treatment.
- Genetic testing can provide more information if your doctor suspects that an inherited heart condition may be causing your symptoms. Our genetic counselors will review testing options and help you decide if testing is right for you and your family.
Our team works with dedicated cardiovascular radiologists and heart imaging technologists to obtain detailed images of the heart, its blood vessels and internal structure. We offer advanced heart imaging studies, including:
- Echocardiogram or echo uses ultrasound to produce images that help doctors identify structural heart changes such as thickened muscle, dilated chambers or valve problems.
- Cardiac MRI specialized magnetic resonance imaging, assesses heart function and checks for signs of heart damage, coronary artery disease, heart valve problems and other conditions.
- CT coronary angiography is a type of CT that uses noninvasive equipment to check for narrowed or blocked heart arteries (coronary artery disease).
Test results can have different meanings for athletes than for people who aren’t physically active. Our team has extensive experience in working with athletes to interpret these tests accurately.
Our Options for Sports Cardiology Treatment
The main goal for cardiology treatment is to help keep you safe so you can participate in sports at your highest possible level. Depending on your unique needs, your options may include:
- Lifestyle changes: We help you develop healthy lifestyle habits such as a nutritious diet, stress management, and appropriate exercise and sports participation. We partner with sports nutritionists with experience working with athletes to develop healthy eating plans that consider your specific calorie and nutrient needs.
- Medications: We may prescribe medicines for heart disease and other heart conditions. Some examples include:
- ACE inhibitors, beta blockers or calcium blockers to treat high blood pressure
- Anticoagulants (blood thinners) to reduce the risk of a blood clot
- Statins to reduce cholesterol in the bloodstream
- Cardiac rehabilitation and physical therapy: Our physical therapists or cardiac rehabilitation specialists help you get back to your previous level of function after a cardiac event, such as a heart attack, or treatment for a heart condition, such as surgery.
- Counseling: Our sports cardiologist advises you about safe ways to improve your athletic training and sports performance.
- Clearance for sports participation: If you are returning to sports after a diagnosis, a cardiac event or heart treatment, we can evaluate you to determine if you’re able to participate.
- Pre-participation exams: We conduct physicals for college, semi-pro and professional athletes before they begin sports participation.
- Referrals: If you need a heart procedure, we refer you to interventional cardiologists or electrophysiologists within Memorial. They provide minimally invasive procedures such as electrophysiology, cardiac ablation, and cardiac catheterization and angioplasty.
To schedule an appointment or learn more about sports medicine at Memorial, call 954-265-8326.