20 years of heart screening data, taken from footballers aged 16 on the verge of turning pro, has shown that most died about seven years after a heart check that showed no problem.
As a result, the FA has increased the number of cardiac assessments for young footballers from one to three
Cameroonian international Marc-Vivien Foé, 28, played in the Premier League. The midfielder collapsed while playing for his country against Colombia in France during the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup. An autopsy found he had a hereditary heart condition.
Bolton Wanderers star Fabrice Muamba, 23, had a cardiac arrest on the pitch during an FA Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur and nearly died.
Sanjay Sharma, professor of inherited diseases and sports cardiology at St George’s University of London and chair of the expert cardiac committee of the Football Association, led the data review.
The results found a death rate of one in 14,700 rather than the previous estimates of one in 200,000.
Between 1997 and 2016, more than 11,000 players filled in a health questionnaire and were given a physical examination, 12-lead ECG and echocardiography. Of these players, 42 (0.38%) had cardiac diseases that could cause sudden cardiac death. Hardly any had symptoms of any sort.
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