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BACKGROUND - The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) recently published revised criteria for ECG interpretation in the athlete.
OBJECTIVE - To examine the performance of the 2010 ESC ECG criteria in a population of athletes undergoing preparticipation cardiovascular disease screening.
METHODS - University athletes (n=508) underwent routine medical history/physical examination and ECG before athletic participation. Transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) was also performed on each participant to detect or exclude cardiac findings with relevance to sport participation. Screening test statistics were calculated to determine the performance of the 2010 ESC criteria, and the performance of the 2010 criteria was compared with the 2005 criteria.
RESULTS - Application of the 2010 ESC criteria, compared with the 2005 criteria, reduced the number of participants with abnormal ECG findings from 83/508 (16.3%) to 49/508 (9.6%). The reduction in the number of abnormal ECGs was driven by the reclassification of participants with isolated QRS voltage criteria for left ventricular hypertrophy from abnormal to normal. Of the 49 participants with abnormal ECGs, 14/49 (29%) had a single ECG abnormality and 35/49 (71%) had two or more abnormalities. The use of the 2010 criteria was associated with improved specificity (reduction in the false positive rate) and preserved sensitivity when compared with the 2005 criteria.
CONCLUSION - Application of the 2010 ESC criteria for ECG interpretation in the athlete improves the accuracy of an ECG-inclusive preparticipation screening strategy by reducing the rate of false positive ECGs.