For citation purposes: Bolognesi M. Sudden cardiac death in athletes: A brief review of literature with a case report. OA Case Reports 2014 Sep 22;3(7):70.

Case study

Cardiovascular Medicine

Sudden cardiac death in athletes: A brief review of literature with a case report.

M Bolognesi

Authors affiliations

(1) Internal General Medicine, Department of Sports Cardiology Medicine Center,Via Ungaretti 494, 47521 Cesena

* Corresponding author Email:



Sudden cardiac death (SCD) in athletes is a rare event; however, it is still 2-4 times more often when compared to non-athletes. The single most important predictor is exercise fainting or near fainting, which should be a warning requiring explanation and investigation. Early identification of athletes at high risk of sudden death imposes drastic decisions such as restriction of competitive sports activity, but also by prophylactic treatment with drugs and implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).

Case Report

The author report here the case of a 43-year-old female triathlete who had recurrent syncope from physical effort (running) caused by a life-threatening ventricular arrhythmia and therefore was declared ineligible for competitive sport. This athlete however, died a few years later suddenly during a cycling event.


Sports cardiologists should never underestimate the life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias when these are associated with recurrent syncope. Relying not only on the results of genetic and cardiovascular imaging, but rather considering clinical observations and making accurate diagnoses when the two hallmark signs are present with vulnerable substrate: syncope associated to malignant ventricular arrhythmias.

Licensee OA Publishing London 2014. Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY)