New national guidelines for identifying potentially fatal heart conditions, including among young athletes, have been drawn up by a team of experts including a cardiologist from the RUH in Bath.
Consultant Dan Augustine was one of the authors who produced two updated papers endorsed by the British Society of Echocardiography.
One publication gives guidelines for cardiac screening for sports participants with a focus on heart ultrasound scans (echocardiograms), particularly in young athletes aged from 14- 35, to identify hidden health issues.
Dr Augustine said: “Sports cardiology is a passion of mine. A shocking twelve young adults a week suffer sudden cardiac death in the UK, so it’s really important that we raise awareness and improve understanding of screening methods so we can try to pick up cardiac abnormalities at an early stage.
“The sports participation screening guidelines will help doctors and physiologists to distinguish between what may be normal for athletic training with potentially abnormal findings.”
The subject of sports cardiology has been in the headlines following the retirement of 26- year-old England cricketer James Taylor after it was found he has a rare, genetic heart condition.
A similar condition led to the on-pitch collapse of Premiership footballer Fabrice Muamba in 2012 and his subsequent retirement from the sport.
This week, a new study warned that the risk of footballers dying from heart failure was underestimated and said there was a duty to protect players.
Dr Augustine led the second publication which looks at pulmonary hypertension and how better to identify the probability of patients having dangerously high pressure in their lung arteries.
He said: “Both of these guideline papers focus on the use of heart ultrasound scans to help detect potentially dangerous heart problems.
“I’m really proud that these new pulmonary hypertension guidelines will help to aid the diagnosis of this important condition and will be implemented in NHS hospitals.
“Pulmonary hypertension can affect all ages and is a disease with high mortality and morbidity, so prompt diagnosis is crucial.”
The new 2018 guidelines are an update of the original 2013 joint guidance document by the British Society of Echocardiography and the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).
Dr Augustine said: “We are continually striving to enhance our detection of disease using heart ultrasound scans and to improve our ability to identify accurately patients with conditions that we can then treat.
“Both of these guidelines will help clinicians and hopefully reduce death due to heart disease.”