The medical value and cost-effectiveness of an exercise test for sport preparticipation evaluation in asymptomatic middle-aged white male and female athletes

BACKGROUND: Cardiovascular events related to high-intensity sport practice are rare but dramatic. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the leading cause of these events after the age of 35 years. The value of a maximal exercise test (ET) for detection of athletes at risk remains a matter of debate.

AIM: The aim of this prospective multicentre study was to clarify the medical value and cost-effectiveness of an ET in middle-aged white asymptomatic athletes who participate in high-intensity sport.

METHODS: All athletes had a physical examination, assessment of cardiovascular risk factors, a resting electrocardiogram and an ET. In case of abnormal ET, complementary cardiovascular evaluation was performed, when requested, to detect potential cardiovascular disease.

RESULTS: 1361 asymptomatic athletes (mean age 50.4±9.6 years; mean training 5.1±3.2h/week; 10.4% women) with a normal resting electrocardiogram and without cardiovascular disease were consecutively included. An abnormal ET was reported in 144 subjects (94% men); this was positively related to the subject's age and cardiovascular risk level. Cardiac arrhythmias (48%) and CAD symptoms (33.3%) were mainly reported. Cardiovascular disease was confirmed in 24 cases (1.7% from the whole population; 16.7% from those with an abnormal ET) - mainly CAD (n=12) and arterial hypertension (n=8). Seventy athletes presented significant unexplained arrhythmias. The cost was approximately €8450 for every confirmed case of cardiovascular disease.

CONCLUSIONS: In this multicentre study in middle-aged athletes, a systematic ET was abnormal in 10.6% of cases. About 2% of subjects had cardiovascular disease, mainly arrhythmias and CAD. From these results, it seems that in a trained population aged >35 years, ET should be targeted at men with at least two cardiovascular risk factors, with acceptable cost-effectiveness. 

Autor / Fonte:Laurent Chevalier, Gaelle Kervio, Stephane Doutreleau, Jean-Philippe Mathieu, Jean-Michel Guy, more. Archives of Cardiovascular Diseases 2017 January 20