AHA, ACC update regulations for athletes, giving soccer star a second chance

Last December, the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiologists (ACC) recently release updated guidelines for competitive athletes with cardiovascular abnormalities. The changes have allowed more individuals with conditions to get back on the field, including a soccer star from Rolla, Missouri, who was featured in an article by the St. Louis Dispatch.

Emma Laney had accepted a scholarship to Columbia College in Missouri to play soccer, but a routine physical before her final season of high school soccer showed she had an irregular heartbeat. The 18-year-old has a bicuspid aortic valve, meaning the aorta becomes enlarged over time. The new guidelines, updated for the first time since 2005, allow for athletes with such a condition to still compete, as long as they receive proper care and monitoring.

“The new recommendations were written in recognition of the fact that physical activity is incredibly important to a person’s overall health, and even those with cardiovascular disease benefit,” said Washington University’s George Van Hare, MD, who led the task force relating to defects present at birth. “The shift also recognizes the rarity of adverse events for patients with congenital heart disease.”

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