Comparison of three current sets of electrocardiographic interpretation criteria for use in screening athletes


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Abstract

BackgroundAn increasing number of sporting bodies report unacceptably high levels of false-positive ECGs when undertaking pre-participation cardiac screening. To address this issue, modified ECG interpretation criteria have become available for use within athletes.ObjectiveThis study assessed the accuracy of the new 2014 ‘Refined Criteria’ against the 2013 Seattle Criteria and the 2010 European Society of Cardiology (ESC) recommendations in a cohort of Arabic, black and Caucasian athletes.Methods2491 male athletes (1367 Arabic, 748 black and 376 Caucasian) undertook pre-participation screening including a 12-lead ECG, with further investigation(s) upon indication.ResultsTen athletes (0.4%) were identified with cardiac pathology; seven with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM; five black and two Arabic) and three Arabs with Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome (WPW). All three ECG criteria were 100% sensitive identifying all cases of HCM and WPW. The 2014 Refined Criteria reduced (p<0.0001) the prevalence of an abnormal ECG to 5.3% vs 11.6% (Seattle Criteria) and 22.3% (2010 ESC recommendations). The 2014 Refined Criteria significantly (p<0.0001) improved specificity (94.0%) across all ethnicities compared with the Seattle Criteria (87.5%) and ESC recommendations (76.6%). Black athletes continue to present a higher prevalence (p<0.0001) of abnormal ECGs compared with Arabic and Caucasian athletes (10% vs 3.6% and 2.1%).ConclusionsThe 2014 Refined Criteria for athlete ECG interpretation outperformed both the 2013 Seattle Criteria and the 2010 ESC recommendations by significantly reducing the number of false-positive ECGs in Arabic, black and Caucasian athletes while maintaining 100% sensitivity for serious cardiac pathologies.

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