The EIS has linked-up with the leading heart charity, Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), on a new 12-month programme of heart screening for hundreds of elite athletes at its sites across England.
The partnership is supported by the JD Foundation (the charitable arm of JD Sports Fashion plc) which has donated more than £100,000 to support screening programmes over the last five years, in memory of Aaron Dixon who tragically died from an undiagnosed heart condition at the age of 23.
The first of the newly funded screening sessions will be held at the EIS’s Performance Centre at Bisham Abbey on Friday 18 May 2018, when over 60 athletes from a range of world class performance programmes will be tested.
The EIS’s Director of Medical Services, Dr Rod Jaques explained: “Protecting the health and wellbeing of the athletes we work with is a key element of the EIS’s role in high performance sport.
“Our ongoing partnership with CRY is an important part of this and enables us to work with national governing bodies (NGBs) to provide a valuable screening service that can identify potential irregularities and issues among athletes and put in place measures to treat and address these.”
CRY has worked with the EIS for over a decade, providing world-class cardiac screening for elite sportsmen and women.
Initially launched in 2007 under the campaign name of “Save Our Athletes”, the programme screened around 1,500 athletes in the run up to the 2012 London Olympics.
Since then is has committed to screening up to 500 affiliated sportspeople every year. The announcement of this new funding from the JD Foundation will secure a further eight screening sessions over the next 12 months at selected EIS centres around England.
CRY’s pioneering screening programme uses a very simple, effective and non-invasive way of diagnosing most cardiac abnormalities, called an electrocardiogram (ECG). If a young person is found to have an abnormality, CRY will also conduct an Echocardiogram (ultrasound) on the same day. Elite athletes will have both of these procedures as part of its sports screening initiative.
Dr Steven Cox, CRY’s Chief Executive, added: “We have a great heritage of working with English Institute of Sport and we’re delighted that this grant will fund the next 12 months of screening for UK athletes.
“There is a vast and growing body of international evidence – much of it led by CRY – to support the importance of pre-participation screening of those involved in professional sport. We are committed to maintaining this awareness and services across all elite sports, as well as increasing access to screening in grass roots sports – with the ultimate aim of preventing sudden cardiac death in young people.”
According to figures from CRY, 12 apparently fit and healthy young people (aged 35 and under) in the UK die suddenly from an undiagnosed heart defect every week. In 80% of these cases, there will have been no signs or symptoms until it is too late, which is why CRY believes screening is so vitally important, particularly for those involved in regular, physical activity.
CRY now tests around 27,000 young people each year, aged between 14 and 35 and well over 150,000 since the screening programme was launched in 1995.
Following the tragic death of Aaron Dixon in 2011, his family and friends have raised tens of thousands of pounds for CRY’s screening programme, leading to free, specialist testing of 1,690 young people (aged 14-35).
Aaron’s mum, Deborah Dixon, from Tarporley, Cheshire helped to secure the recent funding from the JD Foundation.
Deborah said: “Aaron’s sudden and tragic death absolutely devastated our family, as well as our entire community. The number of young people we have screened in our local community already seems such an incredible tribute to Aaron and his life. But, to be able to provide testing for some of our top athletes in Aaron’s name, via CRY and the EIS is a huge and lasting legacy. We are so grateful to the The JD Foundation for its support.”