Sports and Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)

Playing Sports If You Are at Increased Risk


Health benefits of exercise are well known and proven. Exercise lowers cholesterol levels, aids in regulating blood sugar, helps with depression, supports a healthy weight and prolongs life. But exercise may be riskier for some than for others. If you are diagnosed with a heart condition, you should talk to your doctor about how best to go back to exercising.

In the past, patients with heart conditions were automatically told not to play sports. In recent years, research has shown that many people with heart conditions can participate in sports, with very low risk, under the right circumstances. You and your doctor will decide on the intensity of your sports participation and how closely you should be monitored. There may be recommendations about staying well hydrated, avoiding a fever, and watching electrolytes. 

On your part, be sure to take the medications prescribed by your doctor. If you are an athlete with heart disease who has chosen to continue, with your doctor’s guidance, it is important to have a plan in place should an emergency occur. You should choose sports venues that are equipped to provide the best possible care if a medical emergency does arise.

We all have seen news articles about people dying suddenly during sports, but for many people with heart conditions, it can be OK to play again. Talk to your doctor about what is best for you.

< Exams and Tests

Published: March 2018
Editorial Team Lead: Jordan Prutkin, MD, FACC
Medical Contributors: Antonio B. Fernandez, MD, FACC; Adam M. Noyes, MD; Nishant R. Shah, MD, FACC; Isik Turker, MD

Infographic: Young Athletes and Heart Health

Patient Resource