Cardiovascular evaluation of middle-aged/ senior individuals engaged in leisure-time sport activities: position stand from the sections of exercise physiology and sports cardiology of the European Association of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation

Mats Borjesson, Alex Urhausen, Evangelia Kouidi, Dorian Dugmore, Sanjay Sharma, Martin Halle, Hein Heidbüchel, Hans Halvor Björnstad, Stephan Gielen, Alessandro Mezzani, Domenico Corrado, Antonio Pelliccia, Luc Vanhees
European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation 2011, 18 (3): 446-58
Regular aerobic exercise at moderate intensities and an increased physical fitness are associated with a reduced risk of fatal and nonfatal coronary events in middle-aged individuals. In contrast, moderate and vigorous physical exertion is associated with an increased risk for cardiac events, including sudden cardiac death in individuals harbouring cardiovascular disease. The risk-benefit ratio may differ in relation to the individual’s age, fitness level, and presence of cardiovascular disease; sedentary individuals with underlying coronary artery disease are at greatest risk. The intention of the present position stand of the European Association of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation is to encourage individuals to participate in regular physical activity and derive the benefits of physical exercise while minimizing the risk of cardiovascular adverse events. Therefore, the aim is to establish the most practical method of cardiovascular evaluation in middle-age/senior individuals, who are contemplating exercise or who are already engaged in nonprofessional competitive or recreational leisure sporting activity. These recommendations rely on existing scientific evidence, and in the absence of such, on expert consensus. The methodology of how middle-aged and older individuals should be evaluated appropriately before engaging in regular physical activity is both complex and controversial. On practical grounds the consensus panel recommend that such evaluation should vary according to the individual’s cardiac risk profile and the intended level of physical activity. Self assessment of the habitual physical activity level and of the risk factors, are recommended for screening of large populations. Individuals deemed to be at risk require further evaluation by a qualified physician. In senior/adult individuals with an increased risk for coronary events, maximal exercise testing (and possibly further evaluations) is advocated. Hopefully, the recommendations in this paper provide a practical solution for facilitating safe exercise prescription in senior/adults.


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