Brentford FC have teamed up with Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charity to raise £200,000 for ground-breaking sports cardiology research.
The world-first research study will be led by Dr Sabiha Gati, Consultant Cardiologist at Royal Brompton Hospital. It is aiming to help identify young people aged 14-35 who may be vulnerable to young sudden cardiac death (YSCD). Despite there being 12 deaths a week due to YSCD in the UK, the prevalence of this issue in apparently healthy, young people and athletes is often misunderstood and misrepresented.
Dr Gati has observed that there is some evidence that reduced size electrical ‘traces’ of the heart on an electrocardiogram (ECG) may be associated with scarring in the heart muscle, leading to a higher risk of YSCD. The study will seek to identify the prevalence and significance of smaller ECG traces in athletes and non-athletes aged 14-35 years old, which in turn may help to identify young vulnerable individuals at risk of YSCD. The results will create new recommendations and enable more accurate interventions and advice to mitigate YSCD.
If the study reinforces the current hypothesis, it will have an impact on athletes and young people not only in London, but also nationally and worldwide. For example, elite athletes at risk of YSCD could be fitted with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator of the type that Christian Eriksen now has. Outside of elite sport, those at risk could be advised about how to exercise safely and could be more closely and regularly monitored. Close relatives could also be screened, thereby identifying others at risk and reducing the overall incidence of YSCD.
Dr Sabiha Gati Consultant Cardiologist at Royal Brompton Hospital, said: “Some athletes experience cardiac death despite normal, standard cardiac tests – this research will identify vulnerable individuals, identify those at risk, reduce risk of sudden death and ultimately save lives.”
Nity Raj, General Counsel at Brentford FC and Trustee of Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, said: “This commitment is the latest step in our mission to improve cardiac health in our community and beyond. It’s another example of the collective power of our Heart of West London partnership in action. Our hope is that this funding, and the support of the Brentford fanbase, will fuel ground-breaking scientific research to improve the chances of identifying vulnerable young people. If we can save one life as a result of this it will be worthwhile.”
The study will be supported by Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), an organisation that has worked with Brentford FC for many years, and continues to operate screening days at the club (www.testmyheart.org.uk). Royal Brompton will also collaborate with St George’s Hospital’s Sports Cardiology Unit.
Brentford fans can get involved
Brentford FC will be contributing up to £100,000 in match-funding to the project and is now calling on fans to get involved.
Brentford fans will be offered 12 entries in the London Landmarks Half Marathon, which takes place on 2 April 2023, and six entries in Ride London on 28 May. Fans can register their interest by completing the form on brentfordfc.com/fundraising. By fundraising for the Heart of West London partnership, fans will receive an exclusive fundraising package, rewards, and money can’t buy experiences, subject to the level of funds raised by them.
This project forms part of Brentford’s Heart of West London Partnership, launched in October 2022 in memory of Robert Rowan, the Club’s former technical director who died at the age of 28 in 2018 after suffering a fatal cardiomyopathy episode. The Heart of West London Partnership is made up of Brentford FC, Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charity, Cardiac Risk in the Young, Resuscitation Council UK, Pablo London and A-K-A Day. Together, they are using the power of sport to improve heart health in the local community.
Earlier in the season, to coincide with the ‘Restart a Heart’ campaign, a heart-shaped ‘CPQR code’ featured prominently on the front of the players’ shirts for the Brentford v Chelsea match in October to encourage millions watching around the world to take two minutes to learn the basics of CPR.
In December, Brentford FC’s new training centre, the Robert Rowan Performance Centre, was opened in memory of the Club’s former technical director.