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Sports Cardiology

Athletes and active people are often in top physical condition, but cardiovascular diseases and their symptoms can affect anyone. At the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center, our sports cardiologists provide specialized care for athletes at all levels.

Our sports cardiology program is the first and only one of its kind in St. Louis. We understand how sports participation, exercise and training affects the heart. We work closely with you, your coaches and your primary care providers to help you participate safely in your chosen sport.

What Is Sports Cardiology?

Sports cardiology combines sports medicine with cardiology (care for heart diseases) to address the unique heart health needs of athletes and highly active people. Our skilled team has specialized training to recognize how cardiovascular problems can affect athletes and active people differently. 

Our team provides tailored cardiovascular evaluation, education and treatment for anyone who wants to stay active, not just professional athletes. We help people who:

  • experience cardiovascular symptoms during or after exercise
  • have a personal or family history of cardiovascular disease and want to manage symptoms, reduce risk and maintain sports performance
  • have received abnormal test results and need treatment or a second opinion
  • are recovering from heart surgery or a cardiac event such as a heart attack

Why Choose Barnes-Jewish Hospital for Sports Cardiology?

Our team understands how important exercise and sports performance are for your physical and emotional well-being as an active person. We work closely with you to find a level of participation that is as safe and enjoyable as possible. Our program offers: 

  • Specialty heart care for athletes at all levels: Our team includes specialists in cardiology, pediatric cardiology, cardiac genetics and electrophysiology (care for the heart’s electrical system). Together, we treat athletes of all ages and performance levels, from high schoolers through seniors and from recreational to professional.
  • Comprehensive cardiovascular services: We provide individualized services ranging from heart assessments to counseling and education to treatment plans. You can schedule an appointment anytime, and we offer a weekly clinic dedicated to sports cardiology. Our team is focused on treating cardiovascular conditions, reducing your risks for a cardiac event and maximizing your performance.
  • Access to all specialists at Barnes-Jewish Hospital: If you need more advanced treatment, we work with our colleagues in other specialties. We coordinate your care for minimally invasive procedures, surgery, physical therapy and other areas. Learn more about:

Can Sports Cardiology Help Me?

Whether you are a weekend warrior or a professional athlete, we can help you. Our team works with athletes of all ages and activity levels, such as:

  • Competitive: These athletes are dedicated to excellence and achievement through regular, organized competition. They include high school, community club, college and professional athletes.
  • Masters: This group includes competitive athletes age 35 or older.
  • Recreational: People who want to stay active and improve their health include everyone from beginners to people running the occasional 5K.
  • Tactical: These athletes put service first and work in strenuous, often dangerous environments. They include police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and members of the military.

Sports Cardiology: Evaluation and Risk Assessment 

We know what heart health looks like in highly active people and athletes in a variety of sports. And we understand how certain conditions or medications can affect your performance.

Because of your higher exercise capacity, test results that might be concerning in nonathletes may be normal for you. We can also detect subtle issues that might go unnoticed in less active people. Our team excels in determining when you need further testing and treatment — and when you are ready to get back in the game. Learn more about our diagnostic testing for heart disease.

Our evaluation and risk assessment services include:

  • expert identification of abnormal cardiovascular changes compared with exercise-induced changes
  • full risk assessment to evaluate your risk of sudden cardiac arrest
  • second opinion evaluation if you’ve received abnormal findings
  • complete evaluation if you experience cardiovascular symptoms during or after exercise, which include:
    • chest pain or discomfort
    • dizziness or fainting
    • palpitations, a sensation that the heart is pounding, fluttering, skipping beats or beating too fast
    • shortness of breath
    • unexplained decline in performance

Sports Cardiology: Services and Treatments

We work closely with you to tailor your treatments for your specific health needs, performance goals and preferences. Your treatment plan may include:

  • Medications: You may benefit from one or more medicines to treat heart disease and manage symptoms.
  • Physical therapy: Our physical therapists help you maintain or rebuild your strength and function after surgery or a cardiac event. Learn more about our specialists in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

For your convenience, we offer a weekly clinic dedicated to sports cardiology. Our other services include:

  • Counseling: We work with you to develop healthy lifestyle habits such as a nutritious diet and stress management. We advise you about safe ways to improve your athletic training and sports performance.
  • Athletic risk assessment for sports participation: We provide a comprehensive evaluation for safe participation in your sport after a diagnosis, a cardiac event or heart treatment.
  • Pre-participation evaluations: We conduct comprehensive evaluations for young athletes before they begin participating in sports. Our team follows American Heart Association screening guidelines, a 14-point checklist. Find out more about our services to help prevent cardiac distress in young athletes.
  • Community education: Our sports cardiologists can work with your team or group to provide education and training for sports emergencies. We explain how to recognize the signs of sudden cardiac arrest during activity and what to do. Our team can show you how to do CPR and use an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Sports Cardiology: Conditions We Treat

Our sports cardiology experts diagnose, treat and manage many types of cardiovascular conditions, including:

Contact Us

To make an appointment with a Washington University cardiologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 314-362-1291

The Heart & Vascular Center's sports cardiology program is located in Medical Office Building 3 on the campus of Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital. For more information, please call 314-362-1291.