GAA still not scoring well with cardiac screeningMonday October 03 2011 The awareness and uptake of cardiac screening to detect potential heart problems among GAA players is still too low, according to a new study. The GAA introduced cardiac screening in 2006 following the high-profile death of Tyrone All Star Cormac McAnallen, who died of sudden cardiac death two years earlier. Many young people do not have any signs or symptoms before sudden cardiac death so players may have undetected heart conditions, which leave them at risk. It now advises that screening is the most effective way to identify players at risk over the age of 14. This involves completion of the GAA’s cardiac screening questionnaire, a physical examination and an ECG, which records the electrical activity of the heart. A team from the Department of Rheumatology, Sports and Exercise Medicine at University College Cork recently investigated how aware GAA players were about the service and what the level of uptake is. Data was collected at one hurling competition and one football competition in Cork and it involved a questionnaire handed personally to each player. It found that out of 880 players, 258 (29pc) were aware of the GAA cardiac screening programme. Sixty-two (seven per cent) players had completed the process. They said that media was the most common source of informing them about the issue (39pc). Seven per cent of those asked had been told about it by a doctor. The study found that players with inter-county experience were more informed and more likely to avail of the screening that those who played locally. "Ulster fared best in both awareness levels (42pc) and uptake levels (11pc)," said the research. The authors pointed out that studies had proven that cardiac screening could significantly reduce rates of sudden cardiac death amongst athletes. "It is clear from our study that both awareness and uptake levels are well below the desired target," reported the authors. "A more effective and robust system must be put in place in order to protect our athletes." Most of the conditions that cause sudden cardiac death can be treated, demonstrating how important screening is. Around 100 or more people under the age of 35 die in Ireland every single year from it. It does not just affect sports people but if someone has a serious undetected heart problem, over exertion during sport can act as a trigger. Risk factors include: ?A family history of unexplained death (including cot death) in people under 35 years of age. ?Breathlessness on effort. ?Chest pain on effort. ?Dizziness, fainting and blackouts with no known cause. ?Fast heart rate that comes and goes, even when you are resting. ?Palpitations due to an irregular heart rhythm.