Why do the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) provide cardiac screening for professional cricketers?
Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) or Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is where the heart goes into AN abnormal rhythm, known as an arrhythmia, suddenly and often without warning. The person affected will drop to the floor, will be unresponsive and will not be breathing, this is known as a cardiac arrest.
SCD/SCA can affect anyone, but there are certain risk factors that increase the chance of it happening, these are: –
- Aged between 14-35
- Men more than women
- Putting the heart under physical exertion
- Afro-Caribbean background – higher incidence of genetic defects
In an attempt to identify under laying heart abnormalities and prevent cardiac arrest, the ECB are now providing cardiac screening for all professional cricketers
Who is involved and what do they check when performing a cardiac screening session?
I attended a cardiac screening session performed for Glamorgan County Cricket Club players at the Sophia Gardens Wales stadium in Cardiff.
The screening was carried out by CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) on behalf of the ECB sports science and medicine department.
The screening programme included an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, medical history form and an interview with a Cardiologist.
An(ECG) records the electrical activity of the heart. The heart produces tiny electrical impulses which spread through the heart muscle to make the heart contract. These impulses can be detected by the ECG machine.
The CRY mobile screening health questionnaire is a comprehensive document that asks questions about the players such as, age, ethnicity, smoking status and current medication. The CRY team measure and record the weight, height and blood pressure of all the players.
The questionnaire also asks about any symptoms the players may have during exercise, following exercise or unrelated to exercise such as,
- chest pain
- chest tightness
- breathlessness more than expected
There are also questions about family history, asking:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- heart disease
- sudden death in the family under 50
The next section asks if the players have had any cardiac screening previously, have been seen by a cardiologist or have had a diagnosis of a cardiac condition.
The last section of the form asks the players to give information on how much exercise they do in a week, how many hours per day, how many days per week and at what level e.g. professional, international, county, club or recreational.
An echocardiogram is an ultrasound scan of the heart. It is sometimes just called an ‘echo’. Ultrasound is a very high-frequency sound that you cannot hear but it can be emitted and detected by the device. The scan can give accurate pictures of the heart muscle, the heart chambers and structures within the heart including the valves.
If any abnormalities are detected the player will be referred to the Cardiology unit at St George’s Hospital in London for further testing.
Further testing will also be performed if any family members suffer from heart abnormalities or if the players become symptomatic at any time.
How long does a cardiac screen take?
The cardiac screening at Sophia Gardens Wales took approximately 40 minutes for each player. The team from CRY were able to screen 22 players in total, 13 contracted players and 9 academy players. The players that weren’t screened this year will be picked up next year due to being over 25 and classed as low risk, but also have a recent, valid, ECG.
Who are CRY?
Since its formation in 1995, Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) has been working to reduce the frequency of young sudden cardiac death (YSCD). CRY supports young people diagnosed with potentially life-threatening cardiac conditions and offers bereavement support to families affected by YSCD.
CRY promotes and develops heart screening programmes and funds medical research, as well as publishing and distributing medical information written by leading cardiologists for the general public. CRY funds specialist referral, screening and cardiac pathology services at leading UK hospitals.
CRY is a registered charity.
Can anyone have a cardiac screening?
CRY offers subsidised ECG and Echocardiogram screening to all young people between the ages of 14 & 35.
Follow the link below for more information and screening events/locations from CRY.