In order to compete in our country, one must obtain competitive fitness and, even if one does not intend to compete, it is advisable to have a medical check-up once a year. In order to protect the health of sportsmen and women, there are medical examinations aimed at certifying the state of health and the ability to practice competitive and non-competitive sports, with different criteria according to the speciality practised but unambiguous and rigorous lines of principle.

The 2020 study Is the achievement of 85% of age-predicted heart ratemax at exercise test sufficient to make diagnosis of myocardial ischemia in athletes? conducted by the experts from the Mapei Sport Research Centre with colleagues from the School of Specialisation in Sports and Exercise Medicine at the University of Tor Vergata and the IRCCS San Raffaele in Rome answered this question in the negative.

The health director of the Varese centre, Claudio Pecci, who conducted the research with Annalisa Bosio, Mauro Borchini, Bruno Donatucci, Matteo Montano and Ferdinando Iellamo, explains why a sportsman’s heart needs to be tested more than that of a less trained peer. «80-85% of HR is a reliable value for ordinary people, but it is not enough to rule out heart problems in athletes who may suffer when the frequency reaches and exceeds 90%. Like the rest of the body’s muscles, a sportsman’s heart is more trained than the average person’s, and can mislead us if we don’t see it in action at its full potential, which is why in our centre we only perform maximal stress tests, during which we ask athletes to go ‘full throttle’ as they say in sports jargon» explains Dr Pecci, who emphasises how thorough monitoring is even more necessary in this period when the Sars-COV-2 infection continues to circulate.

«Covid, even if contracted asymptomatically, can lead to myocardial compromise, so anyone who knows they have contracted it should undergo an echocardiogram and a maximal stress test before returning to sport, as recommended by the Italian Sports Medical Federation. Prevention means catching virus-induced abnormalities (cardiac, pulmonary, renal) in time, which may be asymptomatic but become apparent with exertion. This is why anyone involved in sporting activity, at any level, should carry out the necessary checks after infection».