VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – If you’re at risk of heart problems, you’d probably want to find out about them before tackling some kind of vigorous race, right?

A grad student at UBC is hoping to save lives by screening thousands of athletes.

This comes just over a week after a giant in the local financial sector died after a triathlon in Hawaii.

The researcher is hoping to take 2,000 high-performance and recreational athletes over the age of 35 through a process that will ultimately find any abnormalities.

Jack Taunton with UBC Sports Medicines is supervising the study being done by a masters student.

“They will go through an extensive cardiac questionnaire which looks at their family history. Has there been any sudden death in younger people in their family? Any family history of coronary artery disease? And then [it asks about] specific symptoms for them, in terms of their day-to-day life and their exercise life. Do they have chest pains? Do they feel palpitations [or] irregular heart beats? Have they ever collapsed while exercising or fainted? And obviously, any chest pain?”

“We ask a number of questions that raise to us red flags, and then they will undergo an electrocardiogram. And on that electrocardiogram, we can look for abnormal rhythm that can predict individuals that have a risk for sudden death.”

Taunton says if anything unusual was found, an exercise stress test would come next, followed by an MRI of the heart and possibly a look at the coronary artery.

There is no registry in Canada showing how many athletes have suffered cardiac arrest or some kind of cardiac irregularity; Taunton says they want to develop that registry.

“So we can prevent these catastrophic events.”

He adds there have been more reports of problems over the last few years.

Canaccord CEO Paul Reynolds, 52, died in Hawaii last week, a few days after being found without a pulse during a triathlon. His exact cause of death hasn’t been released.