ACSM recently published an expert consensus statement that provides guidance on training staff and establishing emergency plans to prevent cardiovascular events at fitness facilities, community and hotel fitness facilities and sporting event venues. The paper updates and replaces previous guidelines released by ACSM and the American Heart Association in 1998. ACSM fellows and subject matter experts authored the statement, “American College of Sports Medicine Expert Consensus Statement to Update Recommendations for Screening, Staffing, and Emergency Policies to Prevent Cardiovascular Events at Health Fitness Facilities,” which is published in the June issue of Current Sports Medicine Reports.
“Vigorous exercise is a double-edged sword in that it protects against but, in rare instances, can trigger acute cardiac events,” said co-author and ACSM Past President Barry A. Franklin, Ph.D., FACSM. “This ACSM special communication provides health-fitness facility professionals with the latest information on the modulators of exercise risk, and how to reduce them, as well as key elements of a well-organized emergency response system."
The new statement aims to further reduce the rare cardiovascular complications of exercise while removing unnecessary barriers to widespread participation in an active lifestyle. In contrast to the 1998 statement, it seeks to minimize screening and other factors that may impede the use or the availability of physical fitness facilities. This newer approach is based on:
- The increasingly recognized health benefits of even low levels of physical activity (PA)
- Cardiovascular events provoked by physical activity among healthy adults, and those with established cardiovascular disease, are rare.
- Some pre-exercise screening strategies present a barrier to PA because they often require additional medical testing for clearance
- Immediate assistance provided by nonmedical personnel—such as dialing 911, initiating bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and using an automated external defibrillator (AED)—can greatly reduce the morbidity and mortality of acute cardiac events.
It also addresses the cardiovascular risks of physical activity, cardiovascular screening of prospective fitness facility members/users and general recommendations for fitness-related facilities. This includes emergency response, staffing and training, automated external defibrillators, signage, member training and mass participation sporting events.
“Publishing this updated statement aligns with ACSM’s mission to advance and integrate scientific research to improve education and the practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine,” said ACSM Chief Science Officer and Fellow Lynette Craft, Ph.D.
ACSM Expert Consensus Statements serve as official statements on topics of high importance to sports medicine and exercise science. Consensus statements blend research evidence and expert opinion to present a well-rounded summary of the topic.