Sports and exercise cardiology in the United States: Cardiovascular specialists as members of the athlete healthcare team

Christine E. Lawless, Brian Olshansky, Reginald L. Washington, Aaron L. Baggish, Curt J. Daniels, Silvana M. Lawrence, Renee M. Sullivan, Richard J. Kovacs, Alfred A. Bove

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

25 Scopus citations


In recent years, athletic participation has more than doubled in all major demographic groups, while simultaneously, children and adults with established heart disease desire participation in sports and exercise. Despite conferring favorable long-term effects on well-being and survival, exercise can be associated with risk of adverse events in the short term. Complex individual cardiovascular (CV) demands and adaptations imposed by exercise present distinct challenges to the cardiologist asked to evaluate athletes. Here, we describe the evolution of sports and exercise cardiology as a unique discipline within the continuum of CV specialties, provide the rationale for tailoring of CV care to athletes and exercising individuals, define the role of the CV specialist within the athlete care team, and lay the foundation for the development of Sports and Exercise Cardiology in the United States. In 2011, the American College of Cardiology launched the Section of Sports and Exercise Cardiology. Membership has grown from 150 to over 4,000 members in just 2 short years, indicating marked interest from the CV community to advance the integration of sports and exercise cardiology into mainstream CV care. Although the current athlete CV care model has distinct limitations, here, we have outlined a new paradigm of care for the American athlete and exercising individual. By practicing and promoting this new paradigm, we believe we will enhance the CV care of athletes of all ages, and serve the greater athletic community and our nation as a whole, by allowing safest participation in sports and physical activity for all individuals who seek this lifestyle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1461-1472
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 22 2014



  • athlete
  • cardiology
  • sports
  • sudden cardiac arrest
  • sudden cardiac death

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

Cite this

Lawless, C. E., Olshansky, B., Washington, R. L., Baggish, A. L., Daniels, C. J., Lawrence, S. M., Sullivan, R. M., Kovacs, R. J., & Bove, A. A. (2014). Sports and exercise cardiology in the United States: Cardiovascular specialists as members of the athlete healthcare team. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 63(15), 1461-1472.