Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy caused more than one third of sudden cardiac deaths in athletes, and the majority of those deaths occurred among young male minorities, a recent study suggests.

The study, published recently in The American Journal of Medicine, suggests also that sudden cardiac deaths due to genetic and/or congenital heart diseases are uncommon in females, but are relatively common among African-Americans and other minorities compared to Caucasians.

In the study, lead investigator Barry J. Maron, MD, from Tufts Medical Center, HCM Institute, Division of Cardiology, Boston, and his team studied the US National Registry of Sudden Death in Athletes, 1980-2011, to determine the epidemiology and causes of sudden deaths among competitive athletes.

They identified more than 2,400 deaths among young athletes aged 13 to 25 who participated in 29 different sports. More than 840 athletes had cardiovascular diagnoses confirmed at autopsy, according to a media release from Elsevier.

From their investigation, per the release, the team suggests that male athletes were 6.5 times more likely to die from a sudden cardiac event than females; hypertrophic cardiomyopathy accounted for nearly 40% of male sudden deaths and was almost four times more common in males than females; and among cases of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, more than 50% occurred in minority males, but only 1% in minority females.

In addition, the team notes that the cardiovascular death rate among African-Americans and other minorities exceeded whites almost five-fold; sudden deaths among male and female basketball players were three times more likely to be African-American and minorities than white; congenital coronary artery anomalies, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, and clinically diagnosed long-QT syndrome were more frequent among females; and structurally normal hearts comprised less than 5% of athlete deaths.

“These observations underscore the potential value of the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology to recommended preparticipation screening in minority and other communities, particularly for the identification of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy,” Maron states in the release.

[Source(s): Elsevier, Science Daily]