James Taylor

England cricketer James Taylor retired from international cricket as he has been diagnosed with a serious but a rare heart condition known as arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC).  The 26-year-old talented batsman, who has been rising in international cricket with his acrobatic fielding and steady batting had to quit his passion cricket at a premature age.

It is indeed worst that could happen to any sportsperson as he has to give up on his dream. He is fighting to outclass the diseases in the London City Hospital. A 26-year old was just boosted by his confidence but suddenly gutted by a rare disease,  is now fighting for survival. His fans wrote an emotional message to him wishing his well being. According to the doctor, vigorous exercise can worsen the condition and may cause sudden death.

He will no more will be able to play any sports as intense work are not allowed with ARVC. But he can continue to work, drive a car and carry on with normal life.

What is ARVC?

After Taylor diagnosed with ARVC  question spark in many people’s minds: What is ARVC? ARVC is a heart muscle condition that affects the right ventricle (although it can also affect the left). The proteins that “stick” the muscle cells of the heart “stick” the muscle cells of the heart together are faulty. Over time, fat and scar tissue replace the heart muscle. This affects the electrical signals that trigger each heartbeat, leading to abnormal heart rhythms that can be life threatening. The condition can also affect the pumping action of the heart, leading to heart failure.

And not sportspersons are prone to this rare disease. According to Perry Elliott, professor of inherited cardiovascular disease at University College London was quoted as said by the Guardian, the heart works harder during exercise.  “There is some evidence that doing intense exercise can unmask the disease, or accelerate it.”

However, ARVC is a genetic disease. According to research journal, only one people get affected in 2,000 people, but not everyone who has the genetic mutations will develop his condition.  “When we look at the families, we find people that carry the mutations and they might have minor abnormalities,” says Elliott. “But many people will not develop the life-threatening complications.”

But, what are the symptoms?

According to Elliot, the most dangerous thing is the occurrence of unexplained blackouts.  Other symptoms include palpitations, dizziness, and arrhythmias. More  rarely, swelling can occur in the ankles, legs or stomach- symptoms that may reflect the onset of heart failure. Unfortunately, the first indication of ARVC will occasionally be sudden death.

But this disease is not curable. Taking cue of patient’s medical history, there are a number of tests that can be used to diagnose ARVC.

Electrocardiograms (ECG) can be used to look at the electrical activity and spot arrhythmias while other tests such as echocardiograms, MRI scans, and CT scans are used to examine the structure of the heart.

However, there is no operation which can cure this disease, but medication, control diet, changing the daily lifestyle limiting vigorous exercise. Taylor also has to avoid recreational drugs and only drinking beverages like tea and coffee in moderation. Those at high risk of developing arrhythmias can be fitted with implantable cardioverter defibrillator device (ICD), which delivers an electric shock to the heart if life-threatening rhythms are detected.

What would be fitted for Taylor to cure ARVC?

It is likely he will be fitted with an ICD.

Do sports community aware about this?

It’s an issue that sports teams are well aware of. Elliott says: “Many professional sports associations [and] clubs organise a regular screening for their athletes, in the form of an ECG alone, or sometimes an ECG and an echo scan.” In Italy, all athletes taking part in organised competitive sports are required to undergo screening, but in the UK systematic screening to prevent sudden cardiac death is not recommended. “There has been a debate with our national screening committee as to whether or not all athletes should be screened, and the current government policy is that the evidence is insufficient to justify screening everybody. But there are potentially higher-risk groups such as professional athletes who could be screened by their own professional associations,” says Elliott.

Footballer Fabrice Mumba had to retire for the same condition. It is thought that now retired Bolton Wanderers central midfielder Mumba has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy,- a different  type of heart muscle disease that can also cause sudden death, during 2012 FA Cup match between Bolton and Tottenham Hotspur.

But, the question is will we be able to cure the disease or have to see player are retiring at a premature age?

Elliott is optimistic that it might one day be possible to prevent the development of ARVC. “There is some interesting work now taking place in the US, looking at drugs that might be able to prevent the disease,” he says. “That’s the hope for the future.”

Quote Credits: Guardian

    Sports Crazy man, Live in cricket, Love writing, Studied English journalism in Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Chose sports as the subject for study, Born 24 years ago during the 1992 Cricket world cup. When he is not writing love to watch movies and reading books and novels.

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