Heart rate response and ECG monitoring in veteran squash players.
The incidence of sudden death during or after squash play has become a source of concern. In order to screen for coronary artery disease, exercise stress testing has been advocated, by the American College of Sports Medicine (1986), for those at or above the age of 45 already exercising or before embarking on exercise. Eighteen veteran squash players (mean age 49 ± 3 yr) took part in the study. Heart rate response was monitored throughout a squash match and for an hour after play. ECG changes were monitored for one hour after squash play. Mean heart rate, throughout playing time was 148 ± 16 beats per minute (range 118 - 168 bpm), representing 86.7% of Predicted Maximum Heart Rate (PMHR). Mean maximal heart rate was 169 ± 14 bpm (range 141 - 186 bpm), representing 98.8% of PMHR. Thus squash represents a very high intensity activity for these players. On subsequent ECG monitoring, no abnormalities were detected. The results of this study confirm that squash is an extremely high intensity sport and that even veteran players play at a level close to their maximal. This level of play did not provoke subsequent cardiac arrhythmias in this small group of players, contrary to an earlier study that reported arrhythmias in one third of a group of younger players in the post match period.