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Exercise and the Heart |

Low Compliance With National Standards for Cardiovascular Emergency Preparedness at Health Clubs*

Kyle McInnis, ScD; William Herbert, PhD; David Herbert, JD; Jason Herbert, BA; Paul Ribisl, PhD; Barry Franklin, PhD
Author and Funding Information

*From the University of Massachusetts (Dr. McInnis), Boston, MA; Virginia Tech (Dr. W. Herbert), Blacksburg, VA; Herbert and Benson Attorneys at Law (Mr. D. Herbert), Canton, OH; PRC Publishing (Mr. J. Herbert), Canton, OH; Wake Forest University (Dr. Ribisl), Winston-Salem, NC; and William Beaumont Hospital (Dr. Franklin), Birmingham, MI.

Correspondence to: Kyle J. McInnis, ScD, Department of Human Performance and Fitness, University of Massachusetts Boston; 100 Morrissey Blvd, Boston, MA 02125; e-mail: kmcinnis@rippelifestyle.com



Chest. 2001;120(1):283-288. doi:10.1378/chest.120.1.283
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There is heightened concern that older adults and individuals with occult or known heart disease are exercising at fitness facilities that do not provide adequate cardiovascular screening and emergency procedures, as outlined in contemporary recommendations. To evaluate adherence to these standards, we surveyed 122 randomly chosen fitness clubs in Ohio (53% response rate; n = 65) that included > 110,000 total members. Special programs for older adults, cardiac patients, or both, were offered at 52% of these clubs. More than one fourth of the clubs (28%) failed to employ pre-entry screening to identify members with signs, symptoms, or history of cardiovascular disease, even though 17% reported one or more cardiovascular emergencies (ie, acute myocardial infarction, sudden cardiac death, or both) in their facility during the past 5 years. Moreover, a majority of the clubs (53%) had no written emergency response plan and 92% failed to conduct emergency response drills as described in published national standards. Only 3% of the centers reported having automated external defibrillators. These findings indicate that staff at public fitness facilities must work to identify members with signs, symptoms, or history of cardiovascular disease and prepare for prompt and appropriate responses to cardiovascular emergencies as described in contemporary national recommendations. Such risk management procedures may reduce exercise-related cardiovascular events among the escalating number of moderate-to-high-risk adults who are being mainstreamed into health and fitness facilities.

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