Comprehensive look at athletes’ health needed
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