You’ve heard the horror stories; A seemingly strong, super-conditioned athlete is playing a professional sport and suddenly falls to the ground dead. An fit, young marathon runner enters one more race and collapses mid-race, dying before ever getting to see the finish line.

These situations happen due to a previously undetected cardiovascular condition – a heart condition that can be detected through the use of an electrocardiography (ECG).

Currently, the ECG is not part of a normal screening because the American Heart Association recommends against it – citing that ECGs have an abnormally high false positive rate of up to 10%.

Introduced this week in a new study by the Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine, is a new protocol that should greatly reduce false positives while always detecting the cardiovascular condition responsible for sudden cardiac death.

The ESCAPE (Early Screening for Cardiovascular Abnormalities With Preparticipation Echocardiography) protocol is said to add less than two minutes to a typical exam and many are hailing it as the “sports medicine physical of the future”.

To be certain of success, the ESCAPE protocol needs to be tested on an athlete with the abnormal cardiac condition but the estimated incidence of this condition ranges somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 in 23,000 to 1 in 300,000, worldwide.

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