Rowing, like other aerobic (endurance) sports, is good for your heart and general health; regular exercise considerably reduces your risk of heart disease, strokes and a wide range of other diseases. BUT strenuous exercise can exacerbate or trigger existing heart conditions, so it’s really important to know if this may apply to you.
The eight “Simon Mepham” commemorates a Walton member in his thirties who collapsed at the end of a head race and died the same day. In December 2020 Walton junior Alex Jackson underwent treatment for a heart condition which could have been fatal if undetected.
Alex’ condition was spotted when he was sent for an ECG (electrocardiogram) following stomach pains; an ECG is a simple, non-invasive procedure which will spot most heart abnormalities. If there is any history of heart disease in your family, or if you have ever suffered from arrythmia (irregular or unusually fast heart-beats), dizziness or chest pain, you should see a specialist before undertaking a strenuous exercise programme.
The charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (testmyheart.org.uk) normally arranges free screening events that you can book; these take place at St Georges Hospital in Tooting. During the Covid-19 pandemic their public events have been suspended but you can still register interest on their website; in the meantime if you have any concerns you should talk to your GP.
All members should also be aware that the Club has an AED (automated external defibrillator), which is located in a cupboard in the gym. The AED can restart a heart’s normal operation following a cardiac arrest or fibrillation; it can safely be used even if you have no training (it talks you through the process as soon as you turn it on). But you will be much more confident in using it if you first watch the 8-minute training video at https://youtu.be/8uWFu-4bZP8. We encourage all members to watch this video and to find where the AED is located.