Sports Cardiology

man running on treadmill in doctors office

Sports Cardiology

Take Your Performance to the Next Level with State-of-the-Art Cardiac Services

For athletes of every competitive level — high school, college, weekend warrior or ultra-marathoner — Vassar Brothers Medical Center Sports Cardiology Center is the only one of its kind in the Mid-Hudson Valley and northwestern Connecticut. Designed by specially trained sports cardiologists to meet the specific needs of athletes, the program helps you achieve peak cardiovascular performance on the field, court, track or trail.

Our team works with you to maximize your body and heart’s efficiency and assess your risk for exercise-induced cardiovascular events. With our assistance, you’ll learn the precise athletic performance intensity that’s best for you based on your unique physiology.

Assessment by sports cardiologists is especially important for high-performing competitive athletes because exercise can change the heart’s structure, mimicking cardiac abnormalities such as genetic and acquired heart disease. Our specialists are trained to differentiate between changes caused by exercise and cardiac conditions needing medical intervention. Our center offers tests that provide insights into what’s happening in your body during exercise. This can help detect undiagnosed congenital heart conditions that can lead to potentially life-threatening events in young athletes. For all athletes, these tests enable our doctors to make recommendations to enhance training, allowing you to take your performance to the next level.

Using advanced imaging technology, aerobic capacity and metabolic testing, software data analysis and cardiac calcium scoring techniques, our sports cardiologists make an individualized study of your body during performance and design a personalized workout to meet your needs.

Original research by The Heart Center sports cardiologists has been presented at the American College of Cardiology annual conference, the premier national cardiology symposium. Working with ultra-athletes (who participate in events that last 6 hours or more), our researchers found an increased incidence of calcium buildup in their arteries, even in those who have no other risk factors. In light of our findings, sports cardiologists will work with athletes who have higher calcium scoring results to determine the best training options for them.

Why Choose Us?

  • Our Sports Cardiology program is the only one in the Mid-Hudson Valley and northwestern Connecticut.
  • Our team approach includes specially trained sports cardiologists, cardiovascular doctors, pulmonologists and exercise physiologists — many of whom are athletes themselves.
  • A multidisciplinary team of physicians works together to screen athletes who may be at risk for cardiovascular conditions that can be triggered by exercise. They can identify genetic defects before the heart is stressed to its limit and monitor athletes with heart disease so they can continue to compete.
  • Our research into coronary calcium levels in ultra-athletes has been presented at national cardiology meetings.
  • The team uses special software and specialized on-site equipment which provide data about metabolic test results, CO2 analysis and anaerobic threshold detection and recommends a personalized workout to meet your individual needs.
  • Our facilities offer advanced cardiac screening for high school and college athletes and teams.

Performance Cardiology Enhancing Assessments

Your Sports Cardiology team will conduct a thorough physical examination and personal and family history review. Your assessment begins with advanced testing to determine three important sets of performance data to assess your most efficient maximum heart rate for optimal training and competing:

  • Aerobic Threshold: your optimal cardiovascular intensity for developing endurance.
  • Anaerobic Threshold: the point at which your body switches to non-oxygen energy sources, which leads to the production of lactic acid.
  • VO2 Max Testing: the leading indicator of your aerobic strength and capacity. VO2 max measures your body’s maximum oxygen consumption. It gives you, your sports cardiologist and your primary care doctor a target when making personalized workout recommendations.

Calcium Scoring
Cardiac calcium scoring produces images of coronary arteries to identify levels of plaque buildup and determine risk of a heart attack. This is the most effective test to determine who is at higher risk for a heart attack. The test result is provided as a score, with a score of zero meaning no calcium is present in the heart and a score of 100 or greater indicating a higher risk of heart attack.

Cardiac Risk Assessments for Weekend Warriors
Our sports cardiologists are dedicated to providing wellness testing and recommendations for people with cardiac risk factors and “weekend warriors,” athletes who participate in sports and exercise part time. Anyone who is returning to sports or considering an exercise program for weight loss or general fitness should be evaluated beforehand. A good first step is medically directed basal metabolic rate (BMR) testing on specialized equipment to measure your individual caloric requirements at rest. This enables you to work with our dietitians and exercise physiologists to craft a personalized diet and exercise program to help weekend warriors lose weight and maintain fitness.

College-Level Sports Cardiology Screening Services
Our Sports Cardiology Center offers advanced cardiac screening services for college athletes and teams. These services include echocardiography, VO2 max testing and risk assessment for cardiac abnormalities such as undetected congenital heart conditions and heart rhythm issues called arrhythmias.

Treatment and Technology

After assessing your individual performance data points, our sports medicine team can help you maximize your body’s use of energy, reduce your risk of injury and determine the exercise intensity that’s right for you. If your data shows you need further testing or treatment, you may need one or more of the following:

We retest your data after 12 weeks to determine the effectiveness of your individual training program and make any necessary adjustments for optimal exercise intensity levels.