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Chapter Objectives

Chapter Objectives

After reading this chapter, the student should have a working knowledge of the following concepts:

  1. Some of the more notable athletes who have experienced cardiovascular problems and related complications, resulting in their death.

  2. Possible reasons why cardiovascular arrhythmias and hypertension become more of a problem at the collegiate and professional levels

  3. Examples of common cardiac arrhythmia conditions

  4. Examples of common hypertension problems

  5. Types of drugs used to control cardiac arrhythmias and hypertension problems

  6. Side effects of drugs used to control cardiac arrhythmias and hypertension

  7. Combined effects of drugs for cardiac arrhythmia and hypertension that can affect athletes

  8. Signs of improper use or abuse of these drugs

Over the past 10 to 12 years great progress has been made in the control of cardiac arrhythmias and hypertensive problems. In 1990 the process for starting cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) began with a "precordial thump"20 Today it begins with early defibrillation. At that time one of the main medications used by physicians during cardiac emergencies was lidocaine to decrease premature ventricular contraction (PVC).20 Today lidocaine is still used, but there are newer antiarrhythmics that may be used preferentially. Additionally, in the early 1990s there was an awakening of the sports medicine community regarding cardiac problems in athletes as a result of the untimely death of Loyola Marymount University (LMU) basketball player Hank Gathers. At the time of his death, Gathers was playing in a basketball game for LMU. The cause of his death was secondary to presumed hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Other prominent athletes who have died from cardiac causes include basketball player "Pistol Pete" Maravich (abnormal coronary arteries), U.S. Olympic volleyball star Flo Hyman (ruptured aortic aneurysm associated with Marfan's syndrome), running advocate Jim Fixx (heart attack while running), and baseball pitcher Darryl Kile (atherosclerotic coronary artery disease). The athletic trainer must recognize the importance of broadening his or her knowledge base to include technical information, such as cardiovascular conditions, that affect the health and performance of the athlete. After the passing of Hank Gathers, the immediate care given by the athletic trainer was closely analyzed. Why did this unfortunate consequence occur? The inconsistency exhibited by Gathers in taking the proper amount of the prescribed medication at proper intervals was determined to be a contributing factor to his death. The findings from the Hank Gathers case gave athletic trainers the realization that they must help athletes to better understand the importance of following dosage regimens as prescribed. The athletic trainer must now see that a part of his or her role is to help keep athletes on track with their medication regimens, ensuring that dosing occurs in the appropriate amounts and at the proper times.

In the 1980s and 1990s little, if any, information regarding cardiac and hypertension problems in athletes was published. However, if one were to conduct a review of newspaper and sports magazine articles of those decades regarding cardiovascular ...

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