January 23, 2022

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Home » Heart-Related Problems In Football Not Related To COVID Vaccines Says Leading Sports Cardiologist

Heart-Related Problems In Football Not Related To COVID Vaccines Says Leading Sports Cardiologist

4 min read
Heat-Related Problems In Football Not Related To COVID Vaccines Says 'Leading Sports Cardiologist'

Professor Sanjay Sharma, the UK’s leading sports cardiologist who works with the FA as well as a number of Premier League clubs, says there has been a worrying spike in cardiac arrests and stars retiring with heart-related issues but insists it is not to do with the Covid vaccine.

Sergio Aguero was forced to retire from football on Wednesday due to ill health, Aguero is the latest footballer who has had heart-related issues this year, and Denmark playmaker Christian Eriksen had a cardiac arrest during Euro 2020.
Charlie Wyke went into cardiac arrest during a Wigan training session last month. John Fleck was rushed to hospital during Sheffield United’s clash at Reading also last month.

Napoli’s Piotr Zielinski asked to come off after gesturing that he was struggling to breathe during a match and Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof went off against Norwich on Saturday with breathing problems and has since trained with a heart monitor.

Adama Traore of Sheriff Tiraspol was at the centre of another scare during a Champions League tie against Real Madrid and Emil Palsson technically died for four minutes during a Norwegian Second Division game between Sogndal and Stjordals-Blink amid scenes reminiscent of Eriksen’s collapse.

The worrying spate of heart-related episodes in football has raised concerns over links with Covid and the vaccination programme to prevent it.

‘We’ve had this blitz in 2021,’ said Prof Sharma, who is head of research and professor of sports cardiology for St George’s University in London. ‘I can see where you’re coming from. It’s worrying that there is suddenly a whole load of young men who are supposed to epitomise the healthier segment of our society suddenly crashing with cardiac problems.

‘Is there an issue? Are these people being tested properly? Is the game doing it? Is there something in the air to cause an increase? I’m keeping an open mind. My feeling is that this is probably a statistical cluster rather than something on the rise.

‘Everyone is jumping to the conclusion that it is Covid-related or, even worse, that vaccine-related myocarditis may be responsible for this spate of cardiac issues that we are seeing in football players.

‘I can tell you now that Eriksen’s arrest was nothing to do with Covid or the vaccine, nor was Aguero’s cardiac scare, nor were Fleck’s problems or Wyke’s.

‘Obviously we have looked after some of these players in the past through the football screening programme. Aguero played in our country for such a long time and only just moved to Spain, so you have got a good idea of what their tests looked like prior to this happening.

‘As someone who has knowledge of what actually happened to some of these people and the diseases that affected them, I can tell you I don’t think it was football-related, just bad luck. It’s just this year we have had a few of these events.’

Prof Sharma believes the increase may be down to the game speeding up significantly since Foe died in 2003 and Muamba collapsed in 2012.

There may be links, he says, to the fact that Premier League players have not had enough rest because they kept on training through lockdown before Project Restart last year, or those in the lower divisions resuming after furlough.

He cites the growth of the internet and social media in spreading stories from foreign leagues faster than they did in the past.

He added: ‘Eriksen’s well-publicized and sudden cardiac arrest – the most high-profile I’ve witnessed – certainly opened up the eyes of the world to sudden cardiac arrest in sport. Then we had another when Aguero had a cardiac scare during a televised game. I would consider him in the top 10 best footballers in the world.

‘When they are big names, people start thinking the problem is getting worse.’

Since the FA’s cardiac screening programme began in 1997, there have been eight deaths as a result of sudden cardiac arrest.

Players are checked every two years from the age of 16 to 22 before responsibility passes to their clubs and many Premier League teams screen every season.

However, it kills more than 600 young people under the age of 35 each year according to the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).

‘You don’t hear about it,’ said Prof Sharma, who is also the cardiologist for CRY. ‘When it happens to someone high profile, it captures the attention of the entire nation.

‘It doesn’t come to light that a young person can just drop dead until a football player has a scare and that is when society starts to realise.

‘After the Eriksen event, the phone was ringing off the hook and the same thing happened when Muamba arrested in 2012. There is a hysterical reaction when something like this happens.’

Politifact recently published a ‘fact-check” saying: “There’s no proof athletes collapsed with heart issues because of COVID-19 vaccination

It’s fair to point out that they say “there’s no evidence.” Could this change in the future with further study? Sure.

But that still remains to be seen.

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