Sudden Death on a Rugby Pitch
When I was a young man I had a good friend who had served his engineering apprenticeship alongside me. He was a promising young rugby player and though we both used to play regularly every weekend for a local amateur club it was well known that the top club scouts were watching him closely.
During a particular league game my friend suddenly collapsed to the floor for no apparent reason. The referee stopped the game and the trainer ran onto the pitch to examine him. We could all see that something serious had happened. A stretcher was called for and he was quickly taken away in a ambulance. We were later informed that unbelievably he had suffered a heart attack whilst on the playing field and, sadly, he died before reaching the hospital.
He was only 21 years old and no one could understand how it had happened to a young man, who was physically in his prime, without any previous warnings.
During my research I have discovered that what happened that day is not uncommon. It is thought to be a genetic disorder hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM, which not only affects young athletes but people of all ages.
Basically HCM is a thickening of the heart muscle which makes it more difficult for it to pump blood. People who suffer from this are often unaware that they have it until it is too late, and physical exertion, puts more stress on the heart muscle which can lead to a series of events causing the heart to go into arrest.
This was the case with my friend who was totally unaware of his condition and pushed himself harder and harder in each training session not knowing the damage he was causing to his heart.
Whilst many prominent cardiologists and cardiac biologists have spent years studying HCM and producing various reports my research has shown that actually very little is known about it and we are still using the same treatments we have been using for decades!
It has been suggested that all young athletes should be screened which I think is a great idea although the majority of the medical profession think it would be impractical.
I am a great believer in using any means possible to improve my health and lifestyle and throughout my research I have discovered many different ways to do this and who knows if my friend had been screened maybe he would still be alive today!