Heart Institute to screen players, coaches in the Jamaica Premier LeagueTuesday, June 15, 2021
ON the heels of watching on television as Danish and Inter Milan midfielder Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest during a match against Finland in the Euro 2021 competition, there's good news for local footballers as Heart Institute of the Caribbean (HIC) is now on board as sponsors of the Jamaica Premier League.
The partnership with HIC will provide cardiovascular screening to some 407 footballers, coaches and managers from all 12 teams in the Jamaica Premier League for the 2021 season, at an estimated value of $14 million.
Screening will be done on an ongoing basis throughout the season under the ambit of the HIC Foundation's Play Smart Programme — designed to screen and detect underlying cardiovascular diseases that could be potentially catastrophic for players if undiscovered.
Professor Ernest Madu, chairman of Heart Institute of the Caribbean, shared “cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death and disability across the world, including Jamaica. It could have [a] catastrophic outcome if it goes undetected”.
Professor Madu added: “The best thing is for footballers and coaches to understand what their risks are and how to mitigate against those risks. We will not just screen the players and treat the conditions, but we will engage in preventive cardiovascular work to help them live better, healthier lives to keep them safe from cardiovascular disease.
“The Heart Institute will also conduct seminars as part of the sponsorship offer. We will engage them through seminars for themselves, their families, their coaches and administrators so it becomes a habit in terms of living healthier lives.”
Professional Football Jamaica's Donovan White believes this is a timely sponsorship for the 2021 season. “We believe it is the responsible thing to do to determine, with a reasonable degree of reliability, whether our footballers are free from cardiovascular abnormalities that could increase the risk of death during training or competition. We are truly elated with the HIC's decision to partner with the Jamaica Premier League in a way that will protect our players from what is a real challenge globally.”
Since 2000, Fifa has recorded over 50 deaths related to heart failure, heart attack or cardiac arrest during play. A study by the American College of Cardiology in 2018 revealed that playing professional sports is associated with short- and long-term effects on the heart, including increased cardiovascular risk.
The Heart Institute of the Caribbean and HIC Heart Hospital are Jamaica's first cardiovascular institutions.
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