Bay Area’s First Sports Cardiology Clinic Debuts

Athletic Heart of San Francisco demystifies cardiology with comprehensive cardiovascular screening for professional athletes and weekend warriors

SAN FRANCISCO--()--Athletic Heart of San Francisco (AHSF) has officially opened its doors as the first dedicated sports cardiology clinic in the Bay Area. Established by sports cardiology specialist Dr. Michel Accad, AHSF was created to meet the unique needs of athletic individuals. With sudden cardiac arrest remaining a national health epidemic and the leading cause of death among athletes, AHSF offers a robust combination of tests and individualized evaluations to screen for heart disease and other cardiac complications that could unknowingly put an athlete’s health at risk. AHSF also provides outpatient consultations and treatment for athletes and patients with heart disease who want to resume or engage in intense exercise.

Participation in sports and high-intensity exercise is at an all-time high across all age groups. More than 40 million youth are involved in organized sports annually.1 In addition, adults over 35 are particularly drawn to endurance sports; marathon events reached a record 2.5 million finishers in 2013.2 Despite all its benefits, however, exercise or athletic training can trigger a serious cardiac event, even in seemingly healthy individuals.

“Activity levels are on the rise, and the time has come to disrupt the old standard for heart health,” said Dr. Accad, a triple-board certified internist, cardiologist and interventional cardiologist and member of the Society of Heart Attack Prevention and Eradication, a national organization that advocates better screening strategies. “Most victims of exercise-related sudden cardiac arrest are completely asymptomatic until the moment of the tragic event.”

In adults, the traditional approach to heart health has focused mainly on measuring blood cholesterol levels and promoting a healthy diet and exercise. In athletic youth, a simple physical may be performed, but specific cardiac tests are not routinely obtained. However, a growing number of physicians and scientists, including Dr. Accad, are taking a more proactive approach aimed at detecting heart disease in its early stages – before complications occur.

AHSF employs a combination of non-invasive tests and imaging technologies that examine the condition of the heart from a variety of angles. AHSF is one of the first clinics of its kind in the nation, and the first in San Francisco, to conduct cardiac evaluations outside a hospital setting and make heart screening more accessible to the public.

Dr. Accad’s innovative, multi-pronged approach is ideally suited to screen athletes whose heart may adapt to exercise in ways that can be difficult to distinguish from the changes seen in certain forms of heart disease. “Sports cardiology is a new discipline developed to promote sports-specific knowledge,” said Dr. Accad, who is a fellow of The American College of Cardiology and a member of its new subsection focused on Sports Cardiology. “Athletes have unique circumstances related to the demands of their exercise activity, and sports cardiology fosters a highly personalized approach. We strive to get to know our patients well and to understand their individual needs.”

Other associations are emerging to emphasize the importance of cardiac screening. No More Broken Hearts, a local grassroots organization founded in September, seeks to raise awareness of the need for screenings to prevent “heart attacks” and strokes.

“My husband was active and experienced no previous symptoms before his sudden passing while playing ice hockey after a six-mile race earlier that day,” said Victoria Dupuy, founder of No More Broken Hearts. “We need to change the way we screen for heart health so others don’t go through the same tragedy I have endured. I am thankful Dr. Accad has stepped forward to help in this effort with Athletic Heart of San Francisco.”

Athletic Heart of San Francisco relies on scientifically validated screening techniques used by cardiologists around the globe. Many professional and Division I collegiate sports teams are employing a similar approach to examine the cardiovascular systems of their athletes. AHSF aims to make this same level of thoroughness accessible to the public.

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About Dr. Michel Accad

Michel Accad, M.D., founder of the Athletic Heart of San Francisco, is a triple board-certified internist, cardiologist and interventional cardiologist with over 20 years of clinical experience. He obtained his medical degree at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston and completed his cardiology training at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). He previously served as director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Kaiser San Francisco hospital and as a staff member of the San Francisco Heart and Vascular Institute.

In addition to maintaining his private practice, Dr. Accad is an assistant professor of cardiology at UCSF and a consultant in medical device development for start-up companies in Silicon Valley. He is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, a fellow of the Society for Cardiac Angiography and Intervention, and a member and certified provider of the Society for Heart Attack Prevention and Eradication. Dr. Accad regularly publishes articles in peer-reviewed and academic medical journals and has been invited to speak on breakthrough research at international medical conferences in the United States, Germany, France, Brazil and Malaysia.

1 National Collegiate Athletic Association.

2 Running USA. 2013 annual marathon report.


Fineman PR
Ivan Becerra, 415-392-1000


Fineman PR
Ivan Becerra, 415-392-1000