Mary Glindon MP joined the national charity, Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) at a high profile parliamentary reception last night as it raised the debate about the importance of screening young athletes at  ‘grass roots’ level.

Ms Glindon attended the event, along with a number of young ‘Olympic hopefuls’ who were keen to highlight the importance of promising young athletes being offered specialist cardiac screening at the outset of their training careers.

Professor Sanjay Sharma, CRY’s Consultant Cardiologist and newly appointed cardiologist for the 2012 Olympics addressed the audience of MPs and families who had been affected by the tragic condition, young sudden cardiac death.

He said “Cardiac screening for these conditions is a very specialist area of medicine and screening of athletes is right at the cutting edge of this challenge.  It is vital that those carrying out the cardiac screening of these wonderfully fit and healthy young people have an expert understanding of an “athletes’ heart” – as they can often ‘look’ and behave’ differently to that of a non-athlete due to the intensive pressure and level of endurance they are constantly put under.

“However, the stakes are high, especially as we again approach one of the world’s greatest sporting events – this time and most excitingly, on our own turf.”

“A ‘false negative’ could instantly mean the end of a professional sportsman’s career or leave them permanently side-lined. But, missing or ignoring a key warning sign could have fatal consequences. It is vital that our leading sportspeople are seen and assessed by specially trained experts, and that this is done early in their careers.”

CRY has worked with leading bodies such as the FA, RFU and LTA, EIS (English Institute of Sport) and RFL, to ensure that screening is widely accessible to high endurance sportspeople. As well as screening the Rugby Premiership, LTA and many leading professional football teams, CRY has screened more than 1,000 elite athletes in the last three years, many of whom will be representing GB next year. During that time:

Chief Executive and Founder of CRY, Alison Cox MBE, adds; “The sporting bodies we have worked with over the last few years recognise and support our aims of preventing these premature, adolescent deaths, whether hockey, tennis or rugby players, rowers, cyclist, track athletes or cricketers. We have a duty to offer screening to these young people. We are very grateful to Ms Glindon for showing her support to our ongoing campaign.”

Every day at least one family in the UK, (12 young apparently fit people die a week) will suffer the trauma of losing a young (35 and under) person to an undiagnosed heart condition