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Harrogate Town News
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Healthy Heart Initiative Extended

A healthy heart initiative at Town, with BMI Duchy Hospital, has been extended and enhanced following the success of a pilot scheme last year.

All our players have been given an Exercise Stress Test using a treadmill-based electrocardiogram (ECG) at BMI The Duchy Hospital to check that their hearts are healthy during exercise.

The test is an extension of a pilot initiative launched last year, which saw Town and The Duchy Hospital partner up to offer free heart screening to all the club’s players. Last year’s test was based on a resting ECG, which measures the electrical activity of the heart while at rest.

This year’s more rigorous Exercise Stress Test, which has seen players strapped up to specialist heart monitors on a treadmill, identifies any abnormalities in the heart’s electrical activity when put under strain. It can detect arrhythmias, narrowing of the arteries and, in rare cases, cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle otherwise known as Sudden Death Syndrome.

Head physio Rachel Davies welcomed the enhanced service and the continuing partnership with The Duchy Hospital, which is based on Queen’s Road in Harrogate. She said: “Even if you’ve got a resting heart rate that is normal, when you exercise, it can change. The Exercise Stress Test is now a standard part of our induction process for new players. We’ve had seven join us this season and they’ve already had the test. All our players have had normal results, which is great and gives them - and us - extra reassurance that there’s nothing underlying going on. It’s all part of our commitment to looking after our players and doing everything we can to ensure they are safe on the pitch.”

Captain Josh Falkingham added: “As a player, it’s really important to have the exercise-based ECG as it gives you peace of mind knowing there’s nothing wrong. You see more and more of it in the media now, and it’s a scary thought. With this out of mind we can now focus on the season ahead.”

Louise Lane, senior cardiac physiologist at The Duchy Hospital, said: “We have enjoyed teaming up with Harrogate Town to provide them with peace of mind that their players have no exercise-induced heart problems. We believe that early diagnosis of abnormalities and prevention is imperative. All results have been reported on by our cardiologist Prof Chris Gale and we are happy to say they have all passed with flying colours.”

Rachel added: “We are very grateful to The Duchy Hospital for providing heart checks as part of their sponsorship of Harrogate Town, as it’s something that a small club like ours wouldn’t be able to offer our players otherwise.”