A student's research project has proved different tests for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are needed for black and white athletes.

Henry Roth's findings emerged after the 18-year-old was inspired to investigate the condition by his uncle dying as a result from sudden adult death syndrome (SADS) at the age of 21.

A cardiologist who worked with Roth on the project said he was "astonished" by the teenager's findings.

While screening for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy does take place, but intense exercise can also lead to a thicker heart, mimicking the condition, so some athletes might not be aware they have the condition.

Two high-profile cases of footballers suffering from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in recent years both involved black players - Fabrice Muamba (read more here) and Marc-Vivien Foe.

'Change the way we test athletes'
Roth's study on elite athletes found differences between black and white athletes which were not accounted for during current screening processes.

He said:  "An aeroplane on the ground with a mechanical fault is not dangerous, but as soon as you take it into the air it's dangerous.

"As soon as they go on to the field it leads to the possibility of arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat)."

Further reading: BHF launch Alliance to support those changing heart patients’ lives

Prof Sanjay Sharma, the medical director of the London Marathon and the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young, believes the work has the potential to "change the way we test athletes for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy".

"Henry has a thirst for researching the heart, driven by his own family's experience of sudden cardiac death," he added. "He wants to make sure other families don't go through what he has experienced, and I have been really excited, and quite astonished, by the research he undertook with me and my colleagues at St George's Hospital.

A proposed alternative way of testing involves looking at the maximum amount of oxygen the body can use up at the limits of physical exercise. Those with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy cannot reach the same peak.