Sports and Exercise Cardiology Program

Cardiac arrest during a sporting event, exercise, or any type of physical activity, although rare, is often caused by an underlying heart condition. The Sports and Exercise Cardiology Program at Cooper works with athletes and others to identify potential heart problems, while establishing safe levels of physical activity. We provide screening for heart disease in competitive athletes, active individuals, and those with cardiac disease who would like to start exercising. Screening results can also determine if an athlete can safely participate in their sport.  

Regular exercise is an important component of overall health because it is known to reduce cardiac events and diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle. We work with athletes and individuals with known heart disease to find a balance among the multiple benefits of exercise, the fitness goals of the patient, and the small risk of sudden death.

When to Seek Care

If you experience the following symptoms while working out or immediately afterward, you should seek medical attention:

• Chest pain

• Fainting or near fainting

• Fluttering or pounding heartbeat

• Abnormal shortness of breath or exercise intolerance

• Residual effects from COVID-19

These symptoms are not always caused by a heart condition. Regardless of whether an evaluation shows an underlying heart condition, we will work with you to create a plan that promotes a safe and active lifestyle.

Activity and Heart Health

For people who are not at high risk for cardiac disease, the American College of Cardiology recommends 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 to 150 minutes a week of vigorous exercise to maintain adequate cardiovascular fitness. Depending on a variety of factors, people who are at high risk still may benefit from low- to moderate-intensity exercise, which helps them to avoid other diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Your Visit to a Sports Cardiologist

Patients who are referred to the Sports and Exercise Cardiology Program, in addition to an exam and review of their medical record, may undergo one or more of the following tests:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Heart monitoring
  • Cardiac imaging, such as heart ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography (CT)
  • Stress test
  • Cardiopulmonary exercise test (VO2 max study)

These tests will help to determine how long and how vigorously a patient can exercise. Everyone is different, but with these tools, our team will prepare an individualized approach with the goal of finding the right plan to help athletes of all levels safely participate in sport and recreational exercisers stay as active as possible.

To make an appointment with a Sports and Exercise Cardiology program, call 833.SJHEART (833.754.3278).