Heart checks for athletes ahead of Olympics

CRY receptionHouse of Commons13/10/2011

A CHARITY aiming to tackle cardiac problems in young athletes has won Parliamentary backing.

Mark Menzies, MP for Fylde, met with charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) at a high profile parliamentary event last week aimed at raising the importance of screening young athletes at  ‘grass roots’ level.

During the event Mr Menzies met with a number of young ‘Olympic hopefuls’ who were keen to highlight the importance of promising young athletes being offered specialist cardiac screening at the outset of their training careers.

Professor Sanjay Sharma, CRY’s Consultant Cardiologist and newly appointed cardiologist for the 2012 Olympics addressed the audience of MPs and families who had been affected by the tragic condition, young sudden cardiac death.

Professor Sharma said “Cardiac screening for these conditions is a very specialist area of medicine and screening of athletes is right at the cutting edge of this challenge.  It is vital that those carrying out the screening of these young people have an expert understanding of an “athletes’ heart” – as they can often ‘look’ and behave’ differently to that of a non-athlete due to the intensive pressure and level of endurance they are constantly put under.

“However, the stakes are high, especially as we again approach one of the world’s greatest sporting events – this time and most excitingly, on our own turf.”

“A ‘false negative’ could instantly mean the end of a professional sportsman’s career or leave them permanently side-lined, but, missing or ignoring a warning sign could have fatal consequences. It is vital that our leading sportspeople are seen and assessed by specially trained experts, and that this is done early in their careers.”

CRY has worked with leading sports to ensure that screening is widely accessible to high endurance sports people and has now screened more than 1,000 athletes in the last three years, many of whom will be representing Team GB next year.

During that time a number of people were identified with abnormalities that required ongoing monitoring together with a further small number who were identified as having potentially serious conditions requiring minor lifestyle adjustments and ongoing monitoring. Also, one person has now had corrective heart surgery and has been able to return to their sport at the highest level. Without screening, the outcome could have resulted in another tragedy.

Chief Executive and Founder of CRY, Alison Cox MBE, adds; “The sporting bodies we have worked with over the last few years recognise and support our aims of preventing these premature, adolescent deaths in our young sportspeople and very grateful to Mr Menzies for showing his support to our ongoing campaign.”

 

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