Screening for heart problems?

Andy Coghlan

The collapse of footballer Fabrice Muamba on live television on 17 March has sparked a debate about how often athletes should be screened for heart abnormalities. Could regular screening prevent sudden cardiac arrests?

 

What abnormalities actually cause sudden cardiac death?
The most common one, accounting for about 35 per cent of cases, is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, where the cells in the heart muscle are abnormally large causing irregular beating. There are also conditions that produce electrical faults in heart functioning, including long Q-T syndrome and Brugada syndrome, as well as faults in the supply of blood to the heart. Some of these defects are inherited and others are congenital, from faults in body development.

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