- Heart disease is the most common cause of unexpected sudden death in all age groups. In older age groups it is usually caused by blockages in the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle – In younger people, the majority of sudden deaths are due to congenital or inherited disorders of the heart muscle and irregular heart rhythms.
- Cardiac conditions can affect 1 in 300 young people and can be present without causing any symptoms.
- Cardiac ‘events’ are not always associated with sport/ exertion and can occur at any time – even during sleep.
- The first sign of an inherited cardiac condition in a person who otherwise appears normal and healthy, may be a serious cardiac event.
- Some European countries have a mandatory screening programme to detect cardiac conditions.
All identified cardiac conditions are treatable
Whilst heart screening has been compulsory in all teenagers and adults competing in athletic sports in Italy since 1982, it is important to note that conditions can affect non-athletes also. Many other European countries offer similar cardiac screening programmes including France, Greece, Spain, Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway, Germany and Poland. Professional bodies such as FIFA and the International Olympic Committee recommend cardiac screening for all their sportsmen and women. The American Heart Association and European Society of Cardiology have prepared guidelines to facilitate this.