Outcomes of Athletes With Genetic Heart Diseases and Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillators Who Chose to Return to Play

Kathryn E. Tobert, J. Martijn Bos, Bryan C. Cannon, Michael J. Ackerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To evaluate outcomes for athletes with a genetic heart disease (GHD) and an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) after return-to-play (RTP) approval. Patients and Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of athletes with GHD and an ICD who were evaluated and treated in Mayo Clinic's Genetic Heart Rhythm Clinic between July 2000 and July 2020. Data on frequency of GHD-associated breakthrough cardiac events (BCEs), inappropriate shocks, and ICD-related complications were collected and analyzed. Results: There were 125 (57 [45.6%] female) GHD-positive athletes with an ICD (mean age at RTP was 19.8±11.6 years); 56 of 125 (44.8%) had long QT syndrome. Overall, 42 ventricular fibrillation–terminating ICD therapies were given to 23 athletes (18.4%) over an average follow-up of 3.6±3.5 years. Athletes with an ICD were more likely to experience a BCE during athletic follow-up (n=28 of 125, 22.4%) compared with those without an ICD (n=4 of 533, 0.8%; P<.0001). The BCE rate for athletes with ICDs was 6.3 events per 100 athlete-years of follow-up; this included 5.1 ventricular fibrillation–terminating events per 100 athlete-years compared with 0.3 BCEs per 100 patient-years for athletes without ICDs. In total, 6 (4.8%) athletes experienced at least one inappropriate shock (1.34 per 100 athlete-years) and 28 (29.6%) athletes had at least one other device-related complication (5.02 per 100 patient-years). However, none of these other complications occurred during sports. Conclusion: This 20-year single-center study provides the longest spanning retrospective review of outcomes for athletes with ICDs given RTP approval. For athletes with GHD and an ICD, no sports-associated deaths or reports of sports-related ICD damage occurred.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2028-2039
Number of pages12
JournalMayo Clinic proceedings
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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