The Charity is supporting new research to improve cardiac screening for athletes and young people aged 14 – 35. Dr Sabiha Gati, Consultant Cardiologist at Royal Brompton Hospital, is especially interested in identifying the most effective and efficient methods for detecting cardiovascular conditions in this cohort that may put them at risk of sudden cardiac death.

In recent years, there have been several high-profile sports professionals who have suffered from cardiac arrests, including Fabrice Muamba, former Bolton Wanderers footballer who suffered a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup match in 2012, and footballer Christian Eriksen who collapsed on the pitch during the Euros in 2020.

According to Cardiac Risk in the Young, each week 12 young people under the age of 35 will die from sudden cardiac death. Dr Gati wants to find out why this happens in a cohort who are young and apparently fit and healthy. 

Dr Gati has emphasized that relying on a single screening method may not be enough to detect all cardiovascular conditions and that a combination of methods may be necessary to achieve optimal results.

This study will analyse around 14,000 electrocardiogram (ECG) results and look for a particular pattern to the electrical activity of the heart. This pattern or “voltage” may be associated with scarring in the heart muscle due to subtle and rarely identified manifestations of a cardiomyopathy (diseases of the heart muscle) or myocarditis (inflammation of the heart)

Participants who have been identified to have this unusual voltage of activity will have further screening. Dr Gati said:

Some young people and athletes experience cardiac death despite normal, standard cardiac tests – this research will identify vulnerable individuals and risk level, reduce risk of sudden death and ultimately save lives.

The results of this study could form the basis of new recommendations on ECG interpretation for this cohort, influencing future national and international recommendations on cardiac screening.

This research will receive funding through the Heart of West London partnership. This partnership includes Brentford Football Club, Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charity, Cardiac Risk in the Young, Resuscitation Council UK, Pablo London and A-K-A Day and together we are changing the game for heart health. 

The Heart of West London Partnership