St George's, University of London is launching the first graduate course in the rapidly evolving field of sports cardiology.

Aimed at cardiologists, sports physicians and cardiac physiologists, the MSc will equip students with first-hand experience of cardiac screening of athletes, cardiovascular evaluation of elite athletes, and how to manage athletes with heart disease. It addresses the increasing demand for individuals with an in-depth knowledge of this discipline.

A blend of theoretical and practical experience, the course will also cover emergency response planning in sport arenas.

Professor Sanjay Sharma, Professor of Inherited Cardiac Diseases and Sports Cardiology, is the Executive Course Director. He is also Medical Director of the Virgin London Marathon.

He said: "Sports cardiologists play a massive role in trying to minimise the risk of sudden death among sportspeople. Indeed in about 80% there are no warning symptoms at all, so some form of screening is absolutely necessary."

Dr Michael Papadakis, Clinical Lecturer in Cardiology and the Course Director, said: "As a sports cardiologist you can make a real difference to the lives of young people who have a rare and potentially lethal heart disease, and you can allow them to live as normal a lifestyle as possible."

The one year full-time, or two years part-time, course is endorsed by the Rugby Football Union, Cardiac Risk in the Young, the European Association for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, the English Institute of Sport, the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine, and London Marathon Events. It offers access to state of the art equipment, cutting edge research and top-level athletes.

The Rugby Football Union has said of the course: "We are committed to safeguarding the health of our players and are proud to support this innovative MSc in Sports Cardiology which will train physicians and allied health professionals in this important area."

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