A Team Approach for Peak Performance
Designed by sports cardiologists specifically for athletes, The Heart Center program at Nuvance Health uses a team approach to maximize your well-being. We bring diverse specialists together to help you get the most out of your training—on the field, court, track or trail.
The team works with you to maximize efficiency and assess your risk for cardiovascular events that can be triggered by exercise. You’ll learn the athletic performance intensity that’s best for you based on your unique physiology (the way your body functions).
The First Step: Evaluation
Exercise can change the heart’s structure, causing it to mimic cardiac issues such as congenital (present at birth) and acquired heart disease. That’s why an assessment by sports cardiologists is especially important for high-performing competitive athletes.
The skilled specialists at Nuvance Health are trained to tell the difference between cardiac issues caused by exercise and those needing medical intervention. We use advanced testing at The Heart Center that provides insights into what’s happening in your body during exercise.
The results can help us detect undiagnosed congenital heart conditions that can lead to potentially life-threatening events in young athletes. They also enable doctors to make thoughtfully revised training recommendations, allowing you to take your performance to the next level.
Cardiology assessments to determine optimal training
The sports cardiology team first conducts a thorough physical examination and asks you about your medical history. Next, your assessment involves advanced testing to determine your target heart rate for optimal training and competition. We look at:
- 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: your body’s maximum oxygen consumption, which is the leading indicator of your aerobic strength and capacity
Calcium scoring to determine your risk
We use advanced imaging to identify plaque buildup in your coronary arteries and determine your potential risk of a heart attack. The test result is provided as a score, with a zero meaning no calcium is present in the heart. A score of 100 or greater indicates a higher risk of heart attack.
Cardiac risk assessments for weekend warriors
Heart Center sports cardiologists at Nuvance Health are dedicated to providing wellness testing and excellent recommendations for people with cardiac risk factors. This includes amateur athletes who are “weekend warriors” and participate in sports and exercise part time.
You may be returning to sports or considering an exercise program for weight loss or general fitness. If that’s the case, we can evaluate you beforehand to determine your optimal diet.
The team may use basal metabolic rate (BMR) testing on specialized equipment to measure your individual caloric requirements (how many calories you need) at rest. You work with dietitians and exercise physiologists to craft a personalized nutrition and exercise program to lose weight and stay fit.
Treatments to avoid potential cardiac issues
Sometimes, we don’t get the answers we need right away. If you require more testing or treatment, next steps may involve:
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)
- Exercise electrocardiogram (stress test)
- Chest X-ray
- Cardiac MRI or CT
- Arrhythmia monitoring
- Screening and participation clearance for college athletes
You are retested after 12 weeks to determine the effectiveness of your individual training program. We work with you to make any necessary adjustments, so you get the most out of your workout, as safely as possible.
Advanced Technology to Stay on Track
The sports cardiologists at Nuvance Health take what we know about your body to design workouts that meet your unique needs. We combine test results from personalized assessments and the latest technologies to help you determine the right path forward.
Original research by 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 these findings, sports cardiologists will work with athletes who have higher calcium scoring results to determine the best training options for them. The study was published in the Mayo Clinic Journal.
Screening for Young Athletes
The sports cardiology program also offers advanced cardiac screening services for college athletes and their teams. These services include EKG, VO2 max testing and risk assessment for cardiac issues such as arrhythmias and congenital (present at birth) heart conditions.