HMT Cardiac Screening Supports British Cycling Policy
The heart specialist team at St Hugh’s Hospital recently welcomed six professional cyclists following the introduction of British Cycling’s mandatory cardiac screening policy, as awareness of the risks faced by sportspeople grows.
The new policy means that every rider, from academy to elite level, is required to have an annual electrocardiogram (ECG) and heart scan to determine if they are at risk of suffering sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).
Attending the hospital on Tuesday 3rd January were Madison Genesis riders Connor Swift and Joey Walker, Team Wiggins Le Col riders Rob Scott and Gabz Gullaigh, Canyon Eisberg’s Tom Stewart and Belgian Beobank Corendon Cyclocross’ Ben Turner.
The six professional cyclists, all of whom have worked with St Hugh’s in the past as part of their development through the ranks, were hooked up to the ECG which monitors the heart’s electrical activity to record a base rhythm and identify any abnormalities.
Ashley Brown, Hospital Director at St Hugh’s, said: “I’m pleased to see British Cycling has taken such a positive step in helping protect the health of our athletes, with the introduction of this policy. ECGs help our cardiologists spot anomalies such as a delay in the rhythm or prolonged rhythm of the heart.
“Cycling, like many sports, puts the body under extreme physical pressure and these tests will highlight potential problems before they result in life-altering incidents.
“We’ve been supporting these cyclists for a number of years as they’ve progressed through the amateur ranks and taken to the national and international stages for a range of teams. Finding, investigating and treating heart conditions is of the upmost importance, especially in athletes, because of the long-term implications of leaving them unidentified.”
British Cycling introduced the policy after experts revealed that athletes are three times more likely than non-athletes to suffer sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and Cardio Smart lists SCA as the leading medical cause of death in young athletes.
British national road race champion Connor Swift (23) said: “It was good to be back at St Hugh’s, despite the serious nature of the check-up. I always receive such a warm welcome here, whether it’s for medical checks or the Ride with the Pros community cycling events.
“Huge thanks to the whole team for making the procedure so stress free; it’s good to know we’re all in such safe hands.”
According to the British Medical Journal and Sudden Cardiac Arrest UK, SCA in athletes aged under 35 is predominantly caused by an underlying genetic heart condition or disorder such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Intense physical activity, such as competitive cycling, can lead to changes in the heart and pathological changes to the heart can mimic genetic heart conditions’ characteristics.
British Cycling joins the growing list of European countries and Israel in which ECGs are routinely performed, particularly on younger athletes. The tests are also recommended by the European Society of Cardiology, The International Olympic Committee and FIFA.
In addition to the ECG, nurses took blood samples from each of the cyclists, which will act as a baseline for future tests.