Since we haven't already had a discussion here at the blog on this topic, internal cardioverter-defibrillators (ICD's) are implantable devices that are designed to deliver a shock to the heart to restore a normal heart rhythm whenever a serious ventricular arrhythmia (an abnormal heartbeat originating in the pumping chambers of the heart) occurs. They are used in patients who have already experienced such a serious arrhythmia and also in patients who are discovered to be at high risk for those same arrhythmias. These are truly life-saving devices.
There are many important issues regarding ICD's and athletes. At this point, the safety of continued participation in sports for athletes with an ICD is simply not known. As a result, most authorities have adopted the conservative recommendation that athletes with an ICD should only participate in low-level activities such as walking or golf.
Dr. Rachel Lambert, a cardiologist at Yale University who specializes in electrophysiology, and her team of investigators is studying the general issue of athletes and ICD's. They maintain an ICD Sports Registry, where they collect data on athletes with an ICD who have continued to participate in rigorous, and even competitive, sports. So far, more than 300 athletes are participating--from high school athletes to marathoners and triathletes, to people playing basketball in a league at the YMCA or tennis at the tennis club. Dr. Lampert's aim is to determine the safety and the risks of sports participation for these athletes so that we might all be able to make more educated recommendations for our athlete patients.
If you have an ICD and are actively participating in sports or vigorous activities, you may qualify to participate in the Yale registry. For more information, please call the ICD Sports Registry coordinating center at 866-207-9813 or email ICDsports.firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information can be found at the project's website, http://www.icdsports.org.
This is a tremendously worthwhile project and I would encourage you to participate. Help us all learn from your experience.
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