Have a heart

Posted in The Sweat by Matt Ward on Fri 20 Feb '09

© www.iaaf.org

René Herms

For those of you that keep a close eye on all things sport you might have seen a worrying trend in the last few months – early death in young athletes. Quite often unexplained, possibly preventable, with what seems to be a simple screening programme.

There have been two high profile deaths in athletics over the last month or so. Firstly, 26 year old Rene Herms died of a ‘heart related’ illness. Then only yesterday it was announced that another 26 year old athlete Kamila Skolimowska has also passed away. She ‘collapsed’ which can normally be construed as heart failure.

Cycling fans will have been equally shocked at the recent death of young Belgian pro Frederiek Nolf during the Tour of Qatar, when the young rider seemed to be full of vitality, talking of ‘having a go’ on the next stage, calling his folks back home the night before, never to wake again – tragic.

© www.telegraph.co.uk

Frederiek Nolf

So, when I flicked open last weeks Athletics Weekly I was pretty shocked to find out how little testing for heart defects actually goes on in sport – I suppose its something that you would never think of. Italy are ahead of the curve when it comes to testing with it being compulsory in many sports. We do have screening available in the UK at a cost (which is normally subsidised) of a paltry £35. It seems that it is a simple procedure that can take place at at mobile CRY screening clinic, a bit like the old Give Blood vans that trawl the country I suspect.

© www.c-r-y.org.uk

With people like Sir Steve Redgrave, Ian ‘Beefy’ Botham, the BBC’s Ben Brown and comedian David Walliams getting behind it, it will also gain higher profile in the future and will hopefully become part and parcel of our routine maintenance of health. Funny, many of us happily book dentist appointments to have ‘healthy teeth and gums’ yet very few of us think about going to get the old ticker checked out.

So, if you regularly get your BPM anywhere near its threshold do yourself a favour and get that old blood pumper checked, even if you aren’t entitled to a free one, its half the cost of a pair of shoes!

Reactions so far
  1. Mary H Feb 27, 11:57 AM

    The trouble is, once you have the information that you have a heart defect what do you do with that? Does that mean that you give up your sport? If people don’t know that they can live a satisfactory life if it turns out they do have something wrong then they may well not want to know.

  2. MST Feb 28, 02:06 AM

    I agree Mary that some people think like this. Its a tough issue and some people would rather do the sport they love, and if it happens, it happens. However, having been touched by this I know how much it hurts those left behind when it does happen…

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