Sports could soon be option for children with heart disorder

For children with a heart rhythm disorder called Long QT syndrome, sports are not an option, but that may soon change.

A new study finds sports participation may be safer for these children than originally thought. Dr. Peter Aziz is a pediatric cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic Children's and led the study.

"I think the study adds some fuel for debate," he said. "At least to the current guidelines in that sports participation shouldn't be excluded for everybody that has Long QT syndrome. We think that there are some patients that can participate safely, based on growing evidence now."

Aziz and a team of researchers studied more than 100 children with Long QT syndrome. It is an inherited arrhythmia disorder that can cause anything from a fainting spell to cardiac arrest.

Children who are born with it are kept out of competitive sports.

But the children in this study were allowed to play after an extensive management plan was put together. It involved medication, communication with coaches and parents, a defibrillator at every game and practice.  

After following the children for an average of seven years, nothing went wrong. There were no cardiac events or deaths during sports competitions.

Aziz says the findings should prompt more studies and could help ease some of the restrictions on kids living with Long QT syndrome, especially when it comes to sports.

"We're not saying that this is a 'one size fits all,'" Aziz said. "Every Long QT syndrome patient is free to play sports. It should still be under the guidance of a doctor, or an expert that understands what the risks are, but if you do and the patient behaves and follows what we think is a good treatment strategy, we think that the risk is low. certainly lower than we thought in the past." 

Long QT syndrome  is a heart rhythm disorder that can potentially cause fast, chaotic heartbeats which may trigger a sudden fainting spell or seizure. It can also cause sudden death, which is why each patient needs careful consideration.
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