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Athletes offered heart screening

GPs in Scotland now have the option of offering young amateur athletes a screening programme to test for the condition that killed footballer Phil O'Donnell.

Up to 4,000 people a year - young amateurs and some professional footballers - will undergo cardiovascular screening following its launch in Glasgow.

The £200,0000 Scottish government-backed programme will make Scotland only the third country in the world after Italy and the US to employ such a scheme.

The pilot programme will use a combination of questionnaires, and testing to identify those at risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD), the condition which claimed the life of Mr O'Donnell.

The Motherwell captain and former Celtic and Scotland midfielder died after collapsing on the pitch last December.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon, who launched the programme at Hampden Park, said the condition claimed some 70 lives a year in Scotland.

"The loss of each of these lives is a tragedy," she said.

Under the scheme, athletes will first fill in a questionnaire detailing any known family heart conditions, before having an ECG test to pick up any abnormality and ultrasound procedure to detect any problem with the structure of the heart.

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Scottish Parliament

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"Any scheme that can possibly save lives is positive. Yes a great idea!" - Trevor Macpherson, Aberdeenshire