2018 Spring

Sports and Performance Cardiologist Ankit Shah, MD, Joins MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute is pleased to announce the addition of Ankit B. Shah, MD, MPH, FACC, as director of the newly created MedStar Sports & Performance Cardiology Program at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital. Sports cardiology is an emerging subspecialty of cardiology that fills a previously undetected void in athletes’ care, both recreational and professional, and active individuals with cardiovascular disease or symptoms. A graduate of Tufts University School of Medicine, Dr. Shah completed his internal  medicine training at CedarsSinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and cardiovascular disease training at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City before completing a dedicated fellowship in sports cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital—the only fellowship of its kind in the country. “It is vital for those caring for athletes and active individuals to have a sound understanding of the cardiovascular demands of exercise and the ability to differentiate healthy physiologic cardiac adaptations from pathologic changes,” says Dr. Shah.

Sports cardiologists provide comprehensive cardiovascular care for athletes and active individuals, including assessment of cardiovascular symptoms such as chest pain, palpitations, dyspnea, syncope and decreased exercise tolerance. “Additionally,” he says, “we work to provide safe return to play recommendations for athletic individuals that have coronary artery disease, history of myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias or valvular heart disease.”

According to Dr. Shah, evaluation of symptoms is done in the context of the individual’s age, risk factors and sport with the aim of reproducing symptoms through tailored exercise testing or ambulatory monitoring. All exercise testing is performed to maximal volitional effort, and cardiopulmonary exercise testing is used to perform complex exercise testing. This diagnostic tool helps clinicians distinguish the cause of exercise intolerance or dyspnea.

“It’s important to recognize that athletes or active individuals may not present the same way as their sedentary counterparts,” notes Dr. Shah. “Active individuals may only experience symptoms or limitations at peak exercise, they may be more reluctant to voice concerns, and symptoms may be subtle, such as an inability to maintain prior race paces.”

Likewise, he adds, interpretation of ECGs and cardiac imaging in athletes must be carefully considered, noting that what may look different or abnormal in a non-athlete might not be a concern in the athletic individual. Medications also play an important role and a careful review and customization of prescribed medications can have a significant impact on regaining or preserving athletic endurance.

During his fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Shah participated in the cardiovascular care of the Boston Bruins, New England Patriots and Harvard University athletes. Since arriving in Baltimore in September of 2017, he has worked closely with MedStar Sports Medicine to provide cardio vascular care for local collegiate and professional athletes. He is also collaborating with Sports Medicine researchers to evaluate best methods for cardiac screening in athletes and the cardiovascular impact of long-term endurance exercise.

“We treat athletic individuals of all ages and athletic aspirations,” says Dr. Shah. “We offer customized treatment plans and exercise prescriptions to allow patients to safely continue in their athletic endeavors. We work with our patients to try to get them back to their sport or activity of choice. Our ultimate goal is keeping our patients safe and active.”

For more information on MedStar sports & Performance Cardiology at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute or to make an appointment with Ankit Shah, MD, please call 410-366-5600.