It is well known the sudden cardiac death is the most common cause of premature death in young athletes and a tragic public health concern. In 2019, the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS) and Canadian Heart Rhythm Society (CHRS) Joint Position Statement on the Cardiovascular Screening of Competitive Athletes provided evidence-based recommendations for Canadian sporting organizations and institutions to screen athletes, supported by the tiered, organization-specific, and athlete-centered Cardiovascular Screening and Care of Athletes Program (CSCAP). These recommendations recommended that screening workflow should occur using a consistent, standardized, and systematic approaches in order to identify, investigate, and follow-up athletes at risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD). Given the substantial variability in pre-participation screening practices and noted amongst Canadian universities, the development of an online platform to standardize athletic screening on a national scale has been postulated.
Concurrently with the development of the Joint Position Statement, Queen’s University demonstrated the utility of these recommendations through the implementation of the CSCAP at their institution over a 2-year period from 2017-2018. Following this preliminary implementation, the goal of national uptake of the CSCAP was proposed, aimed at the development of a pan-Canadian network to track cardiovascular screening and health outcomes in athletes, specifically through the employment of an online screening questionnaire for athletes.
Screening Portal Development
As a response to this call to action, Queen’s University, the Community & Athletic Cardiovascular Heath (CATCH) Network , and Athlete Information Systems, Inc. collaborated to design an online portal for screening athletes. Specifically, the use of this portal is intended for both recreational and competitive athletes or exercisers, ensuring that all members of the physically active Canadian population are screened prior to activity, sport, or athletics. This online health portal will also facilitate nationwide data collection for research purposes.
The CATCH Network screening portal is an online, and mobile-friendly web-based application that offers a virtual platform for cardiovascular pre-participation screening, which can be utilized by any institution and organization. This platform will allow interested institutions/organizations the ability to efficiently screen participants (i.e. athletes) for potential cardiovascular abnormalities prior to engagement in organized or personal physical activity, exercise, or sport. The simplicity of this platform lies in its user-friendly design and customizable features, specific for each institution/organization conducting screening.
Cardiovascular Screening Process and Components
The three main components in the cardiovascular screening of athletes are a cardiac medical questionnaire, physician physical examination, and electrocardiogram (optional, but encouraged). The CATCH Network screening portal automates data collection of screening components and includes an educational module to inform participants on sudden cardiac arrest/death, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and automated external defibrillator (AED) use. Each athlete/exercise will register with their respective institution/organization to complete their cardiovascular screening through this online system. This screening system allows institutions/organizations to easily conduct and manage athlete screening files, as well as contribute to national research to improve cardiovascular athletic care.
Click to icons below to download samples of the CATCH Network cardiac medical questionnaire and physician physical examination form.