Department of Cardiovascular Sciences

AFLETES study - Atrial Fibrillation in veteran athLETEs and the risk of Stroke, an online questionnaire

  • Have you competed in a sporting event at any level?
  • Are you at least 40 years of age?

If so, then please consider participating in our survey. This page contains information about the study. If you are happy to proceed, then click the link below

Fill in the survey 

Participant information

Regular exercise is good for you and reduces the risk of developing heart disease. However, several research studies have suggested that individuals involved in endurance sports over many years may have a greater risk of developing an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation (AF). For most people this is not dangerous, although the irregular and fast pumping of the heart can cause reduced exercise capacity. The most worrying complication of AF is that it can cause a blood clot to form in the heart and puts those with AF at increased risk of having a stroke particularly if they are: aged >65years or have other medical conditions such as diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure, or narrowing of arteries in the body.

We know that athletes are at lower risk of having a stroke compared to the general population as athletes are much less likely to suffer from other medical conditions that increase the risk of stroke. However, we do not know whether this holds true for athletes who develop AF. As athletes involved in endurance exercise tend to develop bigger hearts and their heart beats more slowly (slower pulse rate), it is possible that an athlete’s risks of AF causing stroke are different to that of the general population.

To understand the risks of having a stroke in athletes with AF, we are carrying out an online questionnaire to individuals who exercise frequently. We hope to identify the proportion of veteran athletes with atrial fibrillation have had a stroke and whether this is greater than would be expected based on their calculated risk. The athletes we’re looking for have to be above the age of 40 years old and must have previously competed in at least one competitive sporting endurance event. This can be any level, from club level all the way up to elite level. We will need information about your past medical history, lifetime exercise history, behaviours such as drinking and smoking, and your family history.

We will not collect any personal identifiable data about you. The results of the survey will be made publicly available but will be presented as group data and not based on individuals.

The data will be stored securely. Providing an email address to express an interest in future research projects does not mean that you are obligated to participate.

The results of this study may not be directly beneficial to you. However, it will help provide us with information as to whether individuals who exercise at high levels and develop AF should be treated differently to the general population. However, further larger and more detailed studies would need to be undertaken based on the information that we collect.

If you have any questions, please contact the lead researcher, Dr Susil Pallikadavath on the email provided. All other details about how we handle your data can be seen in the GDPR Privacy Notice.

If you have any concerns regarding how this research is being conducted please contact the Chair of the University Research Ethics Committee at

Principle researcher

Dr Susil Pallikadavath MBChB(hons); BSc
Academic Foundation Doctor and Honorary Fellow at the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Leicester and Glenfield Hospital

Senior researcher

Professor Gerry McCann BSc; MBChB; MRCP (UK); Dip Sports Med; MD
Professor of Cardiac Imaging, Honorary Consultant Cardiologist at the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Leicester and Glenfield Hospital


Dr Anvesha Singh MBChB; PhD; MRCP (UK); FHEA
Associate Professor, NIHR Advanced Clinical Fellow and Honorary Consultant Cardiologist at the Department of Cardiovascular Science, University of Leicester and Glenfield Hospital.

Dr Matthew Graham-Brown BSc; MBChB; MRes; MRCP (Renal); PhD
NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer in Renal Medicine, University of Leicester. Honorary Consultant Nephrologist, John Walls Renal Unit, University Hospitals of Leicester.

Dr Caryl Richards, PGDip (MedEd); MA; MSc; MBBCh; PhD
NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow at the Department of Cardiovascular Science, University of Leicester and Glenfield Hospital. Specialty Trainee in Radiology, University Hospitals of Leicester.

Dr Alastair Sandilands PhD; MMedSci; FRCP
Consultant Cardiac Electrophysiologist and Associate Professor in Medical Education. University of Leicester and Glenfield Hospital. 

Professor Thompson Robinson BMedSci; MD; FRCP; FESO; AFHEA
Professor of Stroke Medicine and Head of Department of Cardiovascular Sciences. University of Leicester and the University Hospitals of Leicester.

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