A medical facility that is the first of its kind in the state is putting future NFL stars through the paces this week in Indianapolis. Indiana University Health Center for Cardiovascular Care in Athletics Medical Director Michael Emery says the center fills a need, not just for prospective pro football players, but for high-performance athletes of all ages and professionals in industries such as public safety and the military. "We’ve really honed in and learned that people that are on the athletic spectrum are different physiological beasts than the standard cardiac patient who just walks for exercise."
More than 300 NFL prospects will participate in the NFL Scouting Combine and, as in years past, IU Health cardiologists will handle their heart evaluations. The new center will help better equip doctors to deal with athlete’s hearts, which Emery says have "structural and functional adaptations" for handling higher loads of physical activity. "Your heart rate gets a little slower, so the intervals get a little longer, the voltages on the EKG can get little bit bigger, the heart itself can get a little bit bigger, the chamber sizes can get a little bit bigger, thickness of the heart muscle wall can get a little bit thicker," all of which could cause "gray zones" for examinations. He says the technology and expertise at the center helps keep doctors from being overly-restrictive, while allowing athletes to be safe and do what they love.
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He says athletes on “the higher end of the spectrum” require different expertise and monitoring.