Explain why it is important to understand the Risk Stratification chart from ACSM and how it is used with positive risk factors.

Quick answer:

It is vital to understand the Risk Stratification chart from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) because it can help determine the client's level of risk and whether he or she needs a medical exam and physician-monitored exercise testing. The chart contains a list of the signs and symptoms of diseases related to a client's heart, blood pressure, and metabolism, as well as a list of positive cardiac risk factors.

Expert Answers

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When explaining why the ACSM's Risk Stratification chart is important and how it is used to determine positive risk factors, consider the information that the chart conveys and how it helps its user identify a client's risk level before he or she enters an exercise program.

First, the chart requires its user to review a client's medical history to determine whether there are known cases of cardiovascular, pulmonary, or metabolic disease. If there are known cases, then the user will know that the client is high-risk and thus needs a medical exam and a physician's presence during maximal and sub-maximal exercise testing.

Second, the chart requires its user to look for major signs and symptoms of the aforementioned types of diseases. Such signs and symptoms include ankle swelling and shortness of breath at rest. If major signs and symptoms are present, then the user can classify the client as high-risk.

Third, the chart helps the user tally positive cardiac risk factors by assessing the client's age, weight, family history, smoking status, blood pressure level, cholesterol level, glucose level, and daily activity level. By counting each positive risk factor, the user can classify the client as either moderate risk or low risk. Note that moderate-risk clients are encouraged to undergo a medical exam for intense physical activity and need a physician present during maximal exercise testing, but low-risk clients do not need a medical exam or physician-supervised exercise testing.

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