posted on 9 November 2012

The Wildcats players have taken time out from their hectic first week of pre-season training for cardiac testing by CRY – Cardiac Risk in the Young.

The Wildcats players underwent cardiac screening this week.

The organisation spent the majority of Thursday in the Legends Bar at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium checking the health of the players hearts as the first team, under 19’s and scholars underwent an examination to check for any underlying issues.

The testing came about after the club doctor John Lynagh along with the RFL suggested such screenings should be a process all professional rugby league players go through after the sad passing of both Adam Watene and Leon Walker in recent years.

The players underwent an Electrocardiogram (ECG) which was performed by the nurses which lasted around five minutes before the test was reviewed by Dr Nabeel Sheikh, the CRY doctor.

CRY is a charity whose mission is to raise awareness of undetected cardiac abnormalities in young, apparently healthy individuals. At least 12 young people die each week in the UK from undiagnosed cardiac conditions. CRY says it is important to stress that the majority of these deaths are preventable while exercise is not bad for you, but can act as a trigger for an event if the individual already has an underlying heart condition.

Wildcats head coach Richard Agar was also tested for any undiagnosed problems and he says getting all of the players checked out is of upmost importance.

“We are being proactive as a club and especially where the boys health is concerned. Their bodies get put through a lot of stress throughout the year and I think it’s precautionary to try and find out anything that might be hidden. Hopefully everybody gets through alright but I think getting it checked out is vital. This club knows more than any over the last few years that there have been issues around this subject.

“It is becoming a matter of course for most clubs and most athletes now because they put their bodies through an awful lot of stress as young athletes and the amount of rigours we put them through so we need to get them checked out. I’ve came across things in my time where heart murmurs have been found and been able to address the issues really early and I think being aware of it from a medical staffs point of view gives everybody tremendous peace of mind.”

Meanwhile first team player Matty Wildie was pleased to get checked out after he was on the field of play when Walker collapsed and died through a rare undiagnosed heart defect in 2009.

“There have been incidents in rugby league and I have also witnessed incidents with Leon Walker too so to get this all done is really important and we will benefit from knowing what’s happening.

“It’s a thing that I don’t want to ever experience ever again and tests like this can help cut out awful tragedies like that.

“The people here are experts and to be with a club that has brought this in is really good on them and it’s going to help us in the long run. We are here to find out if anything is wrong and to also clear your mind and then crack on with pre-season.”

One of the main issues CRY were looking for was inherited conditions and all the players filled out a questionnaire for ‘red flag symptoms’ in family history before undergoing an ECG to give clues to underlying problems such as heart muscle conditions. In some cases they do further investigations where players go on to have the ultrasound scan of the heart and if needed a physical examination where they listen to the heart as well.

Club doctor Lynagh admits the tests are reassuring but you can never eliminate all cardiac deaths.

“You will never totally prevent all cardiac death in sport for two reasons.  Not all conditions will show and not all conditions are treatable.

“It’s something we’ve been wanting to do in the club for quite some time with the past history of Adam Watene and Leon Walker and with the club changing management it has meant the club are forward thinking to go ahead and do things properly.

“The Rugby Football League has also been instrumental in saying we should be doing it for all the players as well so we are screening the first team, the under 19’s and some of the scholarships as well so it will be useful in reassuring us, and especially the players, to know everything is normal.”

For more information on underlying heart conditions and to learn more about CRY then visit their website

This is Wakefield. Together We Are Stronger.

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