The BHA and LJMU launch “Jockeys’ Cardiac Study”

22 Apr 2016 Welfare

Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) have today announced the launch of the Jockeys’ Cardiac Study, researching the impact  rapid weight reduction through dehydration can have on cardiac function in active jockeys.

The study will not only determine the effects making weight through dehydration can have on electrical and muscular aspects of jockeys’ cardiac function, but will also provide screening data on their cardiac health on non-racedays.

A number of sports in the UK, such as football, offer pre-participation cardiac screening to athletes, in a bid to reduce the incidence of sudden cardiac death by detecting some inherited heart conditions. It is hoped the Jockeys’ Cardiac Study will help decide whether all athlete jockeys should undergo the same process.

The study will be based on data collected from jockeys who volunteer to undergo screening at a selection of racing venues around the country.  The Injured Jockeys Fund has kindly agreed to the use of Oaksey House in Lambourn, Berkshire and Jack Berry House in Malton, Yorkshire. A venue in Newmarket is being sought. The first non-raceday session for 30 jockeys is in Malton on May 8 2016 with a post-race screen for 10 jockeys at York Racecourse on May 11 2016.

The benefit to any jockey taking part in the study will be a free assessment of their cardiovascular health through a series of tests including blood pressure, ECG and cardiac ultrasound. The tests will be undertaken by a registered Clinical Cardiac-Physiologist, with Specialist follow-up provided if any issues are identified.

Interested jockeys should contact Caroline Schneider on 07943 929 772 or C.Schneider@2015.ljmuac.uk

The wellbeing and health of the sport’s jockey athletes has been made the number one priority of the BHA’s Chief Medical Adviser Dr Jerry Hill. Prior to the launch of this study Dr Hill has already introduced a Jockey Nutrition and Welfare PhD – also being studied at LJMU – which will ensure the availability of scientific, robust evidence into the physiology and health of jockeys as well as their nutritional awareness and practices.

In addition, the BHA recently announced a review of its concussion management protocols, including research into rehabilitation and an education program. The BHA is viewed as a pioneer in the field of ‘pitch side’ concussion management and treatment in post-concussion management controls and return to competition, however the review is designed to ensure horseracing remains at the forefront of concussion diagnosis, treatment and management in sport.

Dr Jerry Hill, Chief Medical Adviser for the BHA, said:

“My priority is that we as a sport – and the riders themselves – start to think of jockeys not just as horsemen but as athletes.

“The unique demands of being a jockey, including the strict weight-making requirements of the sport, present significant challenges to health and safety. It is my view that those challenges can be mitigated by a modern, scientific approach to wellbeing, nutrition, diet and exercise.

“Dehydrating has long been considered as an effective weight-making technique by jockeys. However, it may be having a significant detrimental impact not only on jockeys strength, performance, mood and decision making – which is supported by research – but also on cardiovascular function. That is what this new study is seeking to research.

“I would ask – and recommend – that jockeys take the time to get involved and come along for a free check -up. It will not only help important scientific research but might also unearth any existing, underlying conditions which our riders may not know they even had, allowing early intervention.

Dr David Oxborough, Reader in Cardiovascular Physiology at LJMU’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, added:

“This is an excellent opportunity to comprehensively study the heart of the jockey to establish the impact of weight-making in the acute and chronic setting. We are very pleased to be able to work with the BHA and the jockey community to provide this initial pilot study.”

Notes to Editors:

1. More information about the welfare and nutrition PhD can be found here: http://www.britishhorseracing.com/press_releases/daniel-martin-appointed-to-first-jockey-nutrition-and-welfare-phd/

2. The BHA’s announcement that it is reviewing its concussion management protocols can be found here: http://www.britishhorseracing.com/press_releases/bha-reviews-concussion-management-protocols/