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The ARENA Project

The Australasian Registry of ECGs of National Athletes
The ARENA project will provide a long-term international data repository to improve our understanding of ECG interpretation cardiac diagnoses, and the rates of major cardiovascular outcomes in screened athletes.
The ARENA project logo

The Australasian Registry of Electrocardiograms in National Athletes (ARENA) collects and centralises cardiac screening data from across sporting organisations in Australasia. It is led by researchers at the University of Sydney, in collaboration with other national and international experts, and hosted by the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) Registry Centre. The ARENA study was launched in 2023, initially in Australia, with New Zealand to follow.

Sudden cardiac death (SCD) in athletes is a rare but tragic event. Cardiac screening of elite athletes for conditions associated with SCD is now widely recommended by leading bodies. Screening generally includes a personal and family history and a physical examination, together with a resting 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG).

All elite sports in Australia and New Zealand conducting cardiac screening of athletes (including ECG) are eligible to participate. ARENA works closely with participating sporting organisations that can use this registry to improve the quality of their cardiac screening programs and provide better cardiac care for young athletes.

Our research team

  • SAHMRI team including data managers, registry managers and biostatisticians
  • Consumer/athlete representatives
  • Representatives from participating sports

Recent highlights & related research

Registry information

The ARENA project is funded by an Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grant and has ethical approval from the University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee (Project No. 2023/551). ARENA is endorsed by the Australasian College of Sport & Exercise Physicians and Sports Medicine Australia.

The ARENA project aims to provide long-term international data to improve our understanding of:

  • the prevalence of conditions associated with SCD in screened athletes;
  • the accuracy of ECG interpretation across different groups (e.g. athletes of various ethnicities, ages and sex);
  • the bounds of normal cardiac adaptations to exercise across athletes from different Australasian sports to provide relevant benchmarks for normal athlete ECG features and accurate interpretation; and
  • major cardiovascular outcomes of screened athletes.

Written consent is provided by sporting organisations. No written consent is required from individual athletes.

Data is collected from sporting organisations as follows:

  • An initial collection of retrospective data (completed screenings) under a waiver of consent; and
  • Ongoing collection of prospective data (future screenings) using an opt-out consent process where athletes are informed about the registry during screening.

Athletes can opt-out at any time if desired (see ‘Participant materials’ for more details).


Dr Jessica Orchard

Contact ARENA