A new program at IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis will allow athletes of all types to receive cardiovascular exams from the same doctors that examine athletes at the NFL Scouting Combine. The IU Health Center for Cardiovascular Care in Athletics is the state’s first full-time sports cardiology program.
The program will allow athletes of all ages, including high school students and adults, to get any level of care necessary. The care can range from high school students needing a physical to adults needing further examination following a cardiovascular event.
"The idea is to use the lab setting to recreate the stresses of athletic performance that may have triggered heart-related symptoms in active individuals and study them to see if we find anything worthy of concern," said Michael Emery, medical director of the IU Health Center for Cardiovascular Care in Athletics. "We can create customized tests for every athlete and any sport and incorporate their performance data into our clinical assessments. This level of examination gives us far more reliable information about a player’s physical limitations and helps to guide our medical treatment so we can hopefully return them to a safe level of activity, which is our ultimate goal."
IU Health says undiagnosed heart disease is one of the leading causes of death among athletes. Emery says they will use the new technology going forward when evaluating college prospects at the NFL Combine, which begins Tuesday and runs through February 29.
"An athlete’s heart is a high-performance machine with unique needs, but only a handful of cardiology programs throughout the country are dedicated to evaluating these active individuals," said Emery. "Now, with this program, we’re going to use every tool in our toolbox to determine which athletes might have a serious heart problem so we can intervene to help keep preventable tragedies from happening."