Why Cardiac Sports Screening?

Stay Healthy

  • Up to 100 young people die each year in Ireland from Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS)
  • 1 in 300 people may have a cardiac abnormality
  • The national register recently reported that the incidents of SADS are higher in Ireland than many other European countries.
  • In Italy cardiac screening is mandatory for those involved in competitive sport for the past 25 years. They have reduced the incidents of SADS by 89%.
  • The GAA’s Medical Scientific and Welfare Committee recommend cardiac screening for all players over the age of 14 years
  • The European Society of Cardiology & the International Olympic Committee recommends cardiac screening.
  • AMS’s heartaid service is based on the recommendations of the above named organisations.
Call: 1890 300 333 or email screening@ameds.ie

Why offer health screening to your employees?

Cardiovascular Health ScreeningBenefits of Health Screening

Employer Benefits

Looking after the long term health of your employees has been shown to be good business. Laya health & wellness has over 17 years’ experience offering a range of health and wellness programmes to companies both large and small

  1. Provides your employees with invaluable information about the status of their health
  2. Gives you an understanding of your company’s exposure to future health risks
  3. Allows you to be proactive in encouraging preventative action
  4. Decreases in absenteeism
  5. Decrease in Presenteeism (attending work while sick)
  6. Increase in staff morale
  7. Fosters employee’s commitment and productivity

Employee Benefits

Laya health & wellness provides a premium health screening service, with a state of the art approach, giving you complete control of your scheduling, programme choice and secure online access to your results.

Our on-site screening service can provide the following:

  1.  Help identify pre-existing health conditions
  2.  Assess your risk of developing different diseases
  3. Advise on health lifestyles
  4. Convenient: we come to your workplace making it very convenient for you

Your health is your wealth so looking after your health should be a priority. It makes sense to look after your health and general well-being; advances in modern medicine now mean that many devastating illnesses such as cancer, stroke and diabetes are now largely preventable.

Call: 1890 300 333 or email screening@ameds.ie

Former Meath captain Shane McAnarney shows the scar of the heart surgery which saved his life

Former Meath captain Shane McAnarney has revealed the extent of the serious cardiac condition that has forced him out of Gaelic football for good.

McAnarney, who is recovering from a double bypass operation he underwent eight weeks ago, was told that his heart could have stopped at any time due to the exertions involved in being an elite sportsman.
Damage to the wall of one of his blocked arteries appeared to confirm that the 2012 Leinster final captain had even suffered a mild heart attack at some stage, which went undetected.

“The one (artery) that was blocked completely, there is damaged tissue around the wall, so I did have a slight heart attack at some stage that I didn’t realise or know about,” he said.
McAnarney underwent surgery after two blocked arteries were discovered last July, following routine cardiac screening of the Meath squad in April.

He admitted he was lucky that such a programme was in place for him to avail of and has implored other players to take up the opportunity.

He also paid tribute to the Gaelic Players Association, which has met the

Atrial Fibrillation – A silent but deadly condition

Fit mother of two discovered huge risk of stroke after routine heart screening

Sinéad Hamill at her home in Stillorgan. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Sinéad Hamill at her home in Stillorgan. Photograph: Cyril Byrne


I was a fit and healthy child and teenager, playing volleyball, basketball and tennis in school and riding horses until I was pregnant with my second child, Dawn, who was born five years ago.



In fact, we are a fit family. Dawn and her sister, Hazel (8), play Gaelic football and swim. Hazel also plays tennis and basketball and is in an athletics club. My husband, Tony, does triathlons and I play Gaelic football and run in marathons.

I took the free HeartBeat screening after I received an offer with the annual renewal letter from my private healthcare insurance provider, Laya. I hadn’t had any annual health check-ups in recent years so I just decided to go along for the screening in July of last year.

Electrical malfunction
My blood pressure was taken. My BMI (Body Mass Index) was calculated and I was given an electrocardiograph test. The nurse immediately said that she noticed an irregularity on the ECG readout. I then went into the doctor who asked me about my exercise levels.

I explained that I was training for the Dublin marathon in October and was planning to ramp up to longer runs over the next three months. He explained how the ECG showed that I had atrial fibrillation (an electrical malfunction in the heart beat) and that I needed to see a cardiologist to have it sorted out.

The HeartBeat team faxed my GP the results of the screening and he rang me back straight away. He knows I run and is fairly fit himself but he explained how important it was that I have the irregularity investigated. “It’s a little more than a heart murmur. You’ll have to stop running and football training until you find out what’s causing it,” he told me.

He gave me a prescription for a form of aspirin to thin the blood while I awaited an appointment with a cardiologist.

Valve defects
Of course I Googled the condition and realised that while the more common form of AF was a racing heartbeat (with more than 200 beats a minute) and palpitations, I had a form in which my heart skipped a beat every one in four beats. I still had to find out what was causing it.

The cardiologist did an echo ECG which didn’t show up any valve defects or fibroids in my heart. What it did show though was the lower chamber of my heart was enlarged. We discovered there wasn’t enough blood being pumped down from the upper chambers (right and left atria) into the lower chambers of my heart (right and left ventricles).

The problem with this is that a blood clot can form if the blood is not being pumped enough and this clot can be passed out of the heart into another part of the body. If the clot lodges in an artery in the brain, this can cause a stroke. I was told that I was five times more likely to have a stroke than most people.

Meanwhile, I got all of my family – my three sisters and my brother – to have ECGs to check if they also had the condition. It turned out that they hadn’t so that ruled out a genetic component even though our mother died of a stroke and heart attack at 73. She also had high blood pressure and smoked, neither of which I had.

The cardiologist suggested I have a cardiac MRI scan to check that there was no underlying fault in my heart. Meanwhile, he prescribed a stronger blood-thinning medication.

The MRI scan didn’t show up any fault in my heart. The next step was to have a cardioversion, a procedure under general anesthetic which would send an electric shock through my heart to get it to stay in rhythm. I was told that there was a 50 per cent chance that this operation would bring my heart beat back to normal but that the longer one had atrial fibrillation, the less likely it would work.

I was much younger than any other patients who have the operation but I still didn’t know how long I had the condition.

Within five days of the operation, I knew my heart had gone out of rhythm again. I felt sluggish. I got up and sat on the bed, took my pulse and could feel my heart out of rhythm again. Another cardioversion operation was scheduled for six weeks after the first and while that worked, the cardiologist also put me on betablockers to keep my heart in rhythm.

On a more recent check-up with the cardiologist, my betablocker prescription was reduced from two tablets a day to one and I will have to take these for the rest of my life. My blood-thinning medication was also changed to a lower dose one.

The only other option for me is to have pulmonary aversion – a surgical procedure which will cauterise a vein at the back of my heart to change the electrical signal from the top to the bottom chamber. While I don’t like the idea of being on medication for the rest of my life, I don’t have any symptoms at all so the cardiologist sees no rush to do such a procedure.

The cardiologist has told me that 50 per cent of people with atrial fibrillation don’t have any symptoms, but it’s the biggest cause of stroke. Yet because my heart is perfect – apart from the electrical malfunction in its beat, the chances of me having a stroke are much less than other people with AF who have defects in their heart as well.

Overall, I have been told that my fitness levels have helped me. I’m back running again and back playing football. I haven’t decided for definite yet, but I plan to do the Dublin Marathon in October.


Heartaid takes the field to highlight cardiac problems

Saturday, March 24, 2012

By a quirk of fate Ed Donovan was in London last Saturday when Fabrice Muamba collapsed in White Hart Lane.

Work had brought the founder of Heartaid, the only mobile cardiac screening company in Ireland, to the English capital. Ever since they inked the contract with the GPA to provide the service to all inter-county senior football and hurling squads, Donovan has been doing the rounds putting elite GAA panels through the test.

He had been out in Ruislip testing the members of London’s football and hurling setups when he returned to his hotel room last Saturday to take in the Ireland-England Six Nations game.

"I flicked over to Sky Sports after the match and it was all over the news about the Bolton player collapsing on the pitch," he said.

"It was a coincidence really that I happened to be over doing screening at the time. It was very sad to see but I also thought it was great to see the brilliant reaction of the medical staff present. Even this week I’ve found, by the amount of enquiries we’ve got, that the story has raised awareness. It’s unfortunate it takes a serious situation like that for headlines to be generated."

The subsequent avalanche of tributes and messages of support to Muamba this week has been heart-warming, yet has also thrown the issue of cardiac problems amongst sports people into the spotlight. Donovan’s background is originally in healthcare management and, having worked in the US for a radiology group, the Cork native returned to work in Blackrock Clinic in Dublin. The tragedies involving Irish sports stars like Cormac McAnallen and John McCall got him thinking about the issue of SADS (Sudden Adult Death Syndrome).

"I wondered what was the cause of it and was there any solution. I read up on it and found that in countries like Italy, anyone who plays organised sport has to get the mobile cardiac screening done. That has reduced SADS deaths in Italy by 89% over the last 25 years.

"I consulted with a lot of cardiologists both at home and abroad and the feedback was that there was a need for cardiac screening."

It took Donovan, whose sporting background is in rugby having played for Cork clubs UCC and Dolphin, six months to get the pieces in place before Heartaid was born at the end of 2010. A study last year by the GAA’s Medical Advisory Committee found all players under 35 should receive cardiac screening and this led Donovan to contact officials about offering his services to inter-county teams.

"We’d talked to a lot of sports medicine doctors and they were aware of us. I made contact with the GAA and Dessie Farrell in the GPA and told them about our service. We did a pilot with the Dublin minor team, which Dessie managed, last year in February 2011. After a successful pilot, we agreed a contract with the GPA to screen test all inter-county hurling and football teams."

The test that Heartaid offers is simple. On the day we meet, the sports scholarship students in UCC are undertaking the cardiac screening with Kevin O’Driscoll and Liam Jennings, members of Cork’s All-Ireland U21 winning side in 2009, and current Kerry U21 footballer Mark Reen amongst those being tested. Donovan guides me through the process with the first step involving the completion of a personal and family history questionnaire. A physical examination with a doctor then takes place where an individual’s Body Mass Index (BMI) is calculated. It’s followed by a heart exam with a stethoscope to detect any murmurs or irregular heart rhythms before testing for radial and femoral pulses. The final step involves a 12-lead electro cardiogram examination with cardiac technician Jimmy Ashraf conducting the test. Within 15 minutes it is completed and in 10 days I receive the results which are also relayed to my GP. In an inter-county setup, a team doctor also receives the results. People are sometimes unsure what to expect," admits Donovan. "But the test is painless and doesn’t take long. If something is picked up, it can then be tested further."

The contract with the GPA ensures Donovan is hitting the road most weekends. When we met he had been screening the Laois footballers the previous Saturday morning and went on to test the two Derry inter-county squads the following day. Next weekend the Armagh hurlers are his port of call. But the service is not just GAA based with rugby sides like the Connacht academy and the senior team also getting tested while Irish hockey player John Jermyn is one of those who has a testimonial supporting the service on their website.

"We’re the only company of the kind currently in operation in Ireland. But I think it was definitely needed. The goal is to reduce the cases of SADS in Ireland and raise awareness, so that’s what we’re trying to do."

* For more information see www.heartaid.ie

Read more: http://www.irishexaminer.com/sport/kfididcweyid/rss2/#ixzz1sNbIph4u

Tyrone squads latest for Cardiac Screening by HeartAid

Ed Donovan of Heartaid, Conor Gormley & Mark Donnelly – Tyrone Senior Footballers
Ed Donovan of Heartaid, Conor Gormley & Mark Donnelly – Tyrone Senior Footballers

Over 60 Tyrone footballers and hurlers were the latest to undergo the GPA’s cardiac screening initiative which is being provided to all county squads over the coming months.

As part of the GPA’s Health and Wellbeing Programme all county players are entitled to be screened and the mobile screening unit has visited 38 county squads all over the country since the initiative commenced earlier this year.

The tragic loss of Tyrone star Cormac McAnallen in 2004 thrust the issue of Sudden Cardiac Death to the fore in Irish sport and led to the provision of automated external defibrillators in many sports clubs nationwide. It also highlighted the need to promote cardiac screening for young athletes.

The GAA’s Medical and Scientific Committee subsequently carried out an extensive body of work in this area and issued a number of recommendations for the screening process. Given that up to 100 young persons (under 35 years) die each year in Ireland from Sudden Adult Death Syndrome, it also recommended that all players should be screened.

In line with the GAA’s Medical and Scientific Committee’s Cardiac Proposals, the GPA, in association with mobile cardiac screening service Heartaid, is providing the screening facilities for each squad.

The Cardiac Screening Programme is funded by the GPA and is seen as a critical welfare component of the Association’s Player Development Programme.

The Development Programme, supported by the GAA, provides a comprehensive suite of support services for inter-county GAA players in the areas of Career Development, Education, Health and Wellbeing, Life Skills and Benevolent Support.