Com­pre­hen­sive look at ath­letes’ health needed

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

THE EDI­TOR, Sir: A LOT of peo­ple have been ask­ing me why we have been hav­ing these in­ci­dents of sud­den death by ath­letes who should be at the peak of health. My opin­ion would be that there are sev­eral causes that need to be looked at:

(1) The qual­ity of med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tions for en­ter­ing school is hap­haz­ard, in that a lot of peo­ple have not been hav­ing ap­pro­pri­ate health ex­am­i­na­tions done by prac­ti­tion­ers, hence – for ex­am­ple – we are miss­ing cardiac con­di­tions.

(2) We have to con­sider the in­dis­crim­i­nate use of en­ergy drinks to boost per­for­mance, and also the need for ad­e­quate hy­dra­tion of peo­ple par­tic­i­pat­ing in all sports.

(3) Then we must con­sider the nutri­tional state of the ath­letes. Many of them, like the rest of the pop­u­la­tion, do not eat prop­erly. Com­pound­ing this is the adrenalin rush of com­pe­ti­tion which makes them ig­nore warn­ing signs and the ca­pac­ity to which they are trained.

While we can­not rush to judge­ment, we need to take a com­pre­hen­sive look at the prob­lems which have now be­come so ob­vi­ous in sports. Let us not for­get that we have had sud­den deaths from peo­ple do­ing PE, not just sports, and we have had sud­den deaths of peo­ple not par­tic­i­pat­ing in sports, such as teach­ers who have col­lapsed. We all need to take a good look at our health.

What is nec­es­sary now is to put to­gether a group of experts in var­i­ous fields to look at the causes, as well as the po­ten­tial ways of re­duc­ing the chance of sud­den death. Most of all is the need for us to take care of the ath­letes in our charge and also take re­spon­si­bil­ity for our­selves. DR WINSTON DAWES, MB, BS, FRCSE

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