A cardio workout (and workup) for athletes

James Beckerman, M.D., FACC
Team cardiologist, Portland Timbers
Providence Sports Care Center

Published October 2011

"Teenage boy dies suddenly during football game."

As a physician and a parent, I know it’s hard to read the headlines about a death in any family. The tragedy can be compounded, however, when a seemingly healthy person dies unexpectedly while playing a sport. Though these sudden deaths are uncommon, the underlying cardiac abnormalities that may increase their likelihood are surprisingly prevalent. (See related story.)

Many of us have seen a patient with risk factors who is interested in starting a structured exercise program; or the cyclist with fatigue or shortness of breath. Or how about those with a history of heart disease who want to become more active?

The partnership between Providence and the Portland Timbers Major League Soccer team allows these patients to get specialized care with a unique sports focus. Providence Sports Care Center at Providence Park is a state-of-the-art clinic with resources for rehabilitation and orthopedics, helping patients go potentially from weekend warriors to athletes at the highest levels of competition.

The center now includes a dedicated sports cardiology clinic with advanced diagnostic and therapeutic resources. I’m excited to be working in this amazing clinic space, which offers consultations, cardiac stress testing, echocardiography and other services for our active patient population.

Patients we care for at the sports cardiology clinic include:

  • People who are interested in starting athletics (e.g., training for a 5K or joining a gym), but have cardiac risk factors and are curious about screening
  • People who currently participate in sports or exercise, but have cardiac symptoms (e.g., chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, declining performance)
  • People with a history of heart disease who want to remain active or start an exercise program
  • People who need preoperative evaluations, particularly for orthopedic surgeries

If you have any questions or want to discuss a clinical challenge, please call 503-216-0900 or email me.

Clinical articles by James Beckerman, M.D.