Our internationally renowned sports cardiology service at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Specialist Care is home to a multidisciplinary team who can help you reach your performance goals, whether in competitive sports or for leisure.

Located at Wimpole Street Consulting Rooms and Diagnostic Centre we provide heart care for athletes of all ages – from adolescence to later life.

What is sports cardiology?

Sports cardiology is the field of heart care related to professional and recreational athletes. Whether you’re a seasoned sports player or simply enjoy keeping fit, exercise has many well-recognised health benefits. It reduces the risk of heart problems and improves mental and physical wellbeing.

However, strenuous physical activity or exercising with a heart problem can put harmful strain on the body if physical limits are exceeded. By undertaking an advanced assessment of your heart, our specialists can develop a tailored exercise plan to help you stay active in sports and exercise safely.

If you meet the criteria below, you may benefit from getting a private heart check with one of our sports cardiologists:

  • you are over 35 with known heart disease and would like help in achieving your exercise performance goals
  • you are over 35 and would like to exercise more intensely but are at risk of heart disease. For example, you are smoker or former smoker, or have a sedentary lifestyle. High cholesterol or blood pressure, and conditions such as diabetes can also increase your risk

Exercising with heart problems

The European Society of Cardiology recommends that people with heart problems exercise to help strengthen your heart and extend life expectancy. All healthy adults are encouraged to complete at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. Moderate intensity exercise means increasing your heart and breathing rate but still being able to hold a conversation.

However, there is a very small risk that existing heart problems could trigger a sudden cardiac arrest. People that were previously not physically active or have advanced heart disease are most at risk.

If you have heart disease, it is important to talk to one our specialists before starting any kind of physical activity. This includes competitive exercise as well as leisurely activities. They will be able to assess the condition of your heart and guide on how to exercise safely.

Sports cardiology experts

Composed of world-leading experts in cardiology, cardiac surgery, and medical imaging. Our multidisciplinary team collaborate to diagnose and treat different heart conditions that can affect exercise performance.

These include:

  • structural heart problems present at birth (congenital heart disease)
  • electrical heart diseases, such as atrial fibrillation
  • heart disease that appears later in life, such as coronary heart disease
  • conditions that can put a strain on the heart, such as diabetes, hypercholesterolemia (high blood cholesterol) and hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • diseases that affect the blood vessels of the body and prevent blood flowing as it should, called ‘vascular disease’

In addition to sports cardiologists, our team of experts include consultants in exercise respiratory physiology. This allows us to review heart and lung problems together in relation to exercise.

Happy man and woman in sportswear smiling while outside

Heart screening for all athletes

Many professional athletes get their hearts checked regularly as part of their training. This lowers their risk of developing a serious problem while competing. However, as a non-professional but active person you may not necessarily think to get your heart checked.

Exercise can put a strain on the heart without appropriate preparation. This includes training for an endurance running event like a 5k run, playing tennis or swimming on weekends.

If you are over the age of 40you are at higher risk of coronary heart disease. One of the most common causes of exercise-related heart problems, many people aren’t aware they have it.

Risk factors for coronary heart disease include smoking, a family history of heart attacks and high blood cholesterol. It can also include conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.

 

Man running outdoors

What does a sports cardiology assessment include?

Our sports cardiology assessments start with an initial consultation with one of our world-leading cardiologists. This helps them understand your level of heart risk during exercise.

An initial consultation costs £250.

If you require diagnostics tests for your heart following your initial consultation, these will be tailored to your needs. They can include:

  • an electrocardiogram (ECG) to check the rhythm of your heart
  • an echocardiogram (echo) which is an ultrasound scan to check the structures of your heart
  • an exercise stress test which checks how your heart works during physical activity
  • a cardiac MRI, which is a more detailed evaluation of your heart’s structures. This helps check if there is scarring in the heart muscle

Our sports cardiology service takes place at our Wimpole Street Outpatient and Diagnostic Centre on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.

Explore our cardiology specialists

The sports cardiology cervice at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals is world-renowned. Our consultants provide heart care for competitive and recreational athletes of all ages – from adolescence to later in life.