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Medicina dello Sport 2019 September;72(3):385-94

DOI: 10.23736/S0025-7826.19.03472-0


language: English, Italian

Electrocardiographic features of a population of athletes aged between 8 and 16 years: a comparison with the young adult athlete

Maria PISERI 1, Geza HALASZ 2 , Vincenzo BIASINI 3, Bruno CAPELLI 2, Silvia NARDECCHIA 4, Luca FALLAVOLLITA 3, Renata PETRONI 1, Maria PENCO 1, Silvio ROMANO 1

1 Department of Clinical Medicine, Public Health, Life and Environmental Sciences (MESVA), University of L’Aquila, L’Aquila, Italy; 2 Department of Sports Medicine, Cardiocentro Ticino Foundation, Lugano, Switzerland; 3 FMSI AMSD, L’Aquila, Italy; 4 Unit of Pediatrics, Department of Translational Medical Sciences, Federico II University, Naples, Italy


BACKGROUND: The criteria for the interpretation of the electrocardiogram (ECG) of the athlete have reached remarkable levels of sensitivity and specificity; however, these studies were conducted on young adult athletes (mean age >16 years). The purpose of this study was to evaluate which are the main electrocardiographic features of a pediatric population of athletes aged between 8 and 16 years, and to verify if the Seattle criteria are valid also for the young population.
METHODS: The study was conducted on a sample of 1395 athletes aged between 8 and 35 years, who mandatory cardiovascular screening for competitive and not competitive sports in 2014. The athletes were divided into two groups: a group of athletes aged between 8 and 16 and another between 17 and 35 years old. Each athlete underwent physical examination, spirometry, urinalysis, resting ECG, ECG during exercise and post exercise, standard echocardiographic examination.
RESULTS: The ECG analysis confirms other studies’ results: the heart rate in the child is significantly higher than in the young adult, as well as the PR and QRS interval are shorter. The QTc interval is greater in the child than in the young adult.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study showed that the ECG is an essential exam within the young athlete’s screening. The type and frequency of pathological changes are similar in the two populations. The Seattle criteria can also be applied to pediatric athletes.

KEY WORDS: Electrocardiography; Athletes; Exercise test

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