James Taylor retirement 'highlights need for heart tests'

James Taylor Image copyright Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Image caption James Taylor played seven tests for England and represented Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire at county level

The retirement of an international cricketer could lead to all young people being tested for heart problems, a leading professor has said.

James Taylor, 26, revealed last week he had been diagnosed with arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) and could no longer play.

Professor David Kelsell said Taylor's news and cheaper genetic testing would make others want to get checked out.

Footballer Fabrice Muamba suffers from a similar heart condition.

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Image copyright James Taylor
Image caption James Taylor has kept his fans up to date with his recovery via regular photos on his Instagram account

Professor Kelsell, who carries out research funded by the British Heart Foundation, said: "After what's happened to James, people will want to know if they are at risk.

"Genetics is changing dramatically and we now have this ability to analyse everyone's genome quite cheaply.

"It could be that everyone's genome is analysed when they are young and it could be used to highlight conditions like ARVC.

"But, of course, even if someone tests positive it doesn't necessarily mean that the person will definitely develop the dangerous cardiac condition."

More than 60,000 people in the UK could be carrying the faulty gene which forced Taylor to retire, researchers have said.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch during a match between Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham

What is ARVC?

Professor of clinical cardiology, Sanjay Sharma is also the consultant cardiologist for the Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) sports cardiology clinic.

He explained the condition to BBC Radio 5 live:

  • Part of the heart replaced by scar and fatty tissue causing rapid and abnormal heart rhythm which can cause a sudden cardiac death
  • Genetic condition, but may not show until adolescence or even young adulthood
  • Associated with a six-fold increase in sudden death among people who exercise - compared with those who don't
  • Not curable, but manageable with procedures and medication
  • Sudden death is the first presentation of ARVC in the majority of young sportsmen who have the condition
  • But many people with the condition never develop any serious problems

The British Cardiovascular Society (BCS) also thinks the Taylor case will help to publicise the dangers of heart conditions among people who are fit and healthy.

Professor Clifford Garratt, vice president of the BCS, said: "There have been previous cases that have been well publicised, but not of this condition.

"Young athletes can have heart conditions, different from the more common coronary artery disease.

"They are just as serious, and in fact more serious."

Image copyright James Taylor
Image caption James Taylor posted on social media shortly after news of his retirement was announced

A career cut short

Image copyright Stu Forster/Getty Images
Image caption James Taylor quickly became a favourite with fans at both Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire

Taylor, the son of former professional jockey Steve, made his first-class debut for Leicestershire against Worcestershire in April 2008 and joined Nottinghamshire before the 2012 season.

The batsman played the first of his seven Test matches for England against South Africa at Headingley in 2012. He averaged 26 and his top Test score was 76 against Pakistan in November 2015.

Taylor's one-day international debut came in 2011 against Ireland. He averaged 42.23 in 27 ODIs, scoring seven 50s and one century - 101 against Australia in September 2015.

At the time of his retirement, Taylor had the fourth-highest limited-overs average - including international and domestic matches - in history.

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