So why aren’t these athletes being screened for heart disease or other cardiovascular abnormalities upfront? The major reason is that many physicians disagree on which type of screening programs should be used and on whom. According to a study by The British Journal of Sports Medicine, Italian researchers found electrocardiogram screenings — which were instituted in Italy in 1983 — reduced SCD’s by 90% in athletes ages 14 to 35.
However, the American Heart Association asserts that ECG screenings are not cost-effective for the relatively low number of deaths they could prevent. Instead, they recommend that athletes be screened with health questionnaires and physical exams, using ECG’s only for secondary testing.