Ed Donovan of mobile cardiac screening company Heartaid says the remaining hurlers and footballers will be screened in the coming weeks, but he stresses the need for sportspeople operating at all levels to be screened for cardiac problems.
“We’re a service provider to the GPA but we don’t just work with elite sportspeople — we’ve screened the Connacht [rugby] Academy and various other sports clubs such as Church of Ireland Hockey Club.
“It’s mandatory in Italy, for instance, where figures for Sudden Adult Death Syndrome have dropped by 89% as a result.”
The unexpected and untimely death of Tyrone Gaelic footballer Cormac McAnallen in 2004 brought the necessity of cardiac screening to the fore.
Donovan explained: “If a club chairman rings and asks about the service, we’ll arrange a convenient time — usually in the evening or at the weekend. We send a designated liaison person in the club a time sheet and they allocate each player a time.
“They send back the time sheet and we text the players to remind them. The day of the testing we set up the clinic in a changing room or committee room in the club. The player arrives, fills out a family history questionnaire, signs a consent form and then he or she is seen by our doctor, who’ll carry out various basic tests — blood pressure, body mass index and so on.
“The player is then seen by our cardiac technician, who does a 12-lead electrocardiogram, which helps to pick up genetic cardiac abnormalities, particularly in young people.
“The player’s free to leave then, and we send the information to a consultant cardiologist. He reviews the information and a report is sent to each person, or their guardian/parent depending on age, within a working week. In the event of something being found, we also write to their GP.”
Donovan adds that a screening is valid for two years, with best practice recommending sportspeople be tested every second year. For more information log onto heartaid.ie