Thursday, January 26, 2017

UWI Research Days targets regularising ECG tests for student-athletes

In light of recent cardiac mishaps with young Jamaican student-athletes, the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona’s Research Days 2017 staging slated for February 1-3 on the grounds of the Mona Campus, will reveal the latest results from ongoing research into Electrocardiographic (ECG) testing for local athletes. 

In addition to the update on the programme, at Mona’s Research Days 2017, student-athletes from identified schools will be offered free ECG tests as part of the continuing “Cardiac Screening in Youth Athletes” executed by lead researcher Dr Lisa Hurlock.

The ongoing research is aiming to prove whether or not the ECG screening, which is a five minute, simple, pain free test, is a viable tool to help screen for traces of heart disease which may lead to ‘sudden cardiac death’ in Jamaican athletes. The ECG test is also cost effective as it is relatively affordable in comparison to other screening tests.  

An ECG examination traces electrical activity in the heart and according to Dr. Tahira Redwood, Resident in Internal Medicine at the University Hospital of the West Indies, the tests are crucial in early detection of heart attacks or other heart related issues.

“There is a lot of data and research globally about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in other races, however, there is very few findings which are specific to the Caribbean and Jamaica, by extension. Therefore, we are trying to see if the ECG screening process is a good tool for our population to prevent future cardiac deaths of our young athletes,” said Dr. Redwood. 

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URD 2017 Launch ECG: Lecturer in Anatomy in the Department of Basic Medical Sciences Dr. Michael Gardner (left), and resident in Internal Medicine at the University Hospital of the West Indies Dr. Tahira Redwood (centre) review Electrocardiographic (ECG) results for Dwayne Haynes at UWI Research Days Launch held on Tuesday, January 10 at the Faculty of Medical Sciences Teaching and Research Complex, UWI Mona Campus.

In recent time, the Jamaican sporting community has been shocked by the passing of a young footballer along with other mishaps related to unknown heart conditions in student athletes. These events have reignited the discussion of instituting mandatory ECG examinations for student athletes by the Inter Secondary Schools’ Sports Association. 

The UWI Mona, Research Days has traditionally helped to shape national policies and this latest research into the viability of ECG screening exams in young Jamaican athletes is aiming, if successful, to impact of the National Public Health Policy in the near future.  

Research has shown that hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which causes sudden cardiac death, is actually more common among athletes than any other group of people due to the strenuous training conditions and regimens. 

Dr. Redwood went on to further posit that hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is also more prevalent in Black people more than any other ethnic group. 

“We are at a higher risk, than the Caucasian, Asian or Indian population, of this disease which can kill our young athletes. With the ECG we can pick up traces of the disease for which we can then conduct further tests to help diagnose then treat them or declare them free of the disease.”

For more information on UWI Research Days, please visit

About The UWI
Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in BarbadosJamaicaTrinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. For more information, visit

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