Documentary’s heart scans may prove a life-saver for former players

The movie, to be released today, has saved the lives of several of Pete McGrath’s side that beat Meath 29 years ago.
Documentary’s heart scans may prove a life-saver for former players
Former Down footballer Brendan McKernan, second from left , with ex-Meath players Ian Kearney, left, and Colm O’Rourke, second from right, and legendary Royals coach Sean Boylan in the documentary ‘Extra Time’ that looked at the cardiovascular health of the 1991 All-Ireland football finalists.

Down’s 1991 All-Ireland SFC winning captain Paddy O’Rourke’s chances of avoiding a cardiac episode were improved by his participation in a documentary set to be released today.

In conjunction with Irish Heart Disease Awareness, GPA founder Donal O’Neill’s Extra Time — Know Your Score movie has saved the lives of several of Pete McGrath’s side that beat Meath 29 years ago.

O’Neill organised a cardiac screening of the two teams that played that day after which it was discovered eight Down players and one from Meath required follow-up consultations with some coronrary calcium scoring reading as high as 3,100 — the lower the score the better (Mickey Linden and Martin O’Connell tested best).

O’Rourke, who agreed to be filmed as he tried to bring down his score of 1,201 via a reversal programme, took readings of his blood glucose and succeeded in reducing his risk by cutting out food such as bread that were affecting his sensitivity. He also began to take supplements such as magnesium oxide, vitamin D, vitamin K2 and fish oil tablets.

O’Rourke’s retesting showed a reduction 17 times in his risk for a hard cardiac event and in a third scan he had brought the number down to 800.

The relieved O’Rourke reacted: “I couldn’t be happier to get a reversal in that short period of time. It makes it all very rewarding. I’m delighted and I’m looking forward to reversing even more over the next period of time. It’s great that you can reverse it.”

Interestingly but also worryingly, O’Rourke had been seeing a cardiologist for 20 years and was informed he was in good fettle. He also had extensive blood work done six months before the scan, so the test results had been jarring.

“I feel cheated by the fact that the information wasn’t there. That if I had known I could have, would have done something about it a lot earlier in my life.”

- Extra Time — Know Your Score can be downloaded on www.extratimemovie.com from today.

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