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Chapter Objectives

After reading this chapter, the student will be able to:

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

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

  3. Identify examples of common cardiac arrhythmia conditions.

  4. Identify examples of common hypertension problems.

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

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

  7. Discuss the combined effects of drugs for cardiac arrhythmia and hypertension that can affect athletes.

  8. Identify signs of improper use or abuse of these drugs.

Chapter Outline

  • Arrhythmias

    • Class I

    • Class II

    • Class III

    • Class IV

    • Adverse Effects

    • Antiarrhythmic Drug Interactions

    • Device Therapy

  • Hypertension

    • Medications for Hypertension

    • Adverse Effects

    • What to Tell the Athlete

  • Scenario From the Field

  • Discussion Topics

  • Chapter Review

Great progress has been made in the control of cardiac arrhythmias and hypertensive problems. 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. When he died, 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 athletes. After Hank Gathers’ death, 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 made athletic trainers realize 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 their 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.

Historically, many sport-related cardiovascular events occur in college and professional athletes. More recently, high-school athletes and younger are experiencing cardiovascular events during sports participation. Young athletes are dying on the field due to cardiovascular problems. It was once theorized by exercise physiologists and physicians that younger athletes do not stress the cardiovascular system as much as college or professional athletes. For example, high-school athletes may participate in a number of different sports during the ...

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