Dr Nigel Stephens MBBS, PhD, FRCP is a Consultant Cardiologist at the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health (ISEH) and Honorary Consultant Cardiologist at The British Olympic Medical Centre. He is also a Track Cycling Masters National Champion and World Championships medallist.
Nigel has been a PerformancePro client for 6 years and trains on average once a week with Strength and Conditioning Coach, Rob Rees.
We took a little time out of Nigel’s very busy schedule to find out more about his professional life, his competitive side and the links between the two.
Since graduating from Kings College Hospital in 1988, Dr Nigel Stephens has specialised in cardiology and is a renowned consultant in his field. He was instrumental in devising and providing sports cardiology services for athletes at the British Olympic Medical Institute. Over 10 years, Nigel saw more than 1,000 athletes referred with cardiac issues,
‘Sports cardiology is a particular interest of mine because of my personal involvement in competitive sport. I am interested in the interpretation of apparently abnormal findings in athletes’ hearts, along with assessment of the safety to continue to play in competitive sports in athletes with established heart disease.
‘A growing and complex issue is the coincidence of the common cardiac diseases of later life with the continuing wish to play competitive sports. I have cared for patients who continue to play sport following heart attack, angioplasty, treated hypertension, mild heart failure and heart rhythm disorders.’
Nigel’s affinity for this patient group reflects his continued enjoyment of high level competitive sport in track cycling. He has competed successfully as international with World Championship silver and bronze medals and a European Championship gold medal in masters track cycling.
Nigel’s experience and key expertise across general and sports cardiology, treating both elite athletes and the general population for a host of heart related issues and concerns, brought him to Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health (ISEH) earlier this year.
At The ISEH, he provides a range of cardiology services including outpatient assessment for patients with known or suspected heart disease, in addition to diagnostic assessments for recreational to elite athletes returning to sport or wishing to take on a new sporting challenge.
‘I am particularly committed to helping people return to a fully active life and to enjoy the benefits of physical activity and exercise – even after episodes of serious ill health. I very much wish to empower patients in their own care and help them to be an agent of their care by helping them to understand their condition and the technology and pharmacology that is available to treat it.
‘I welcome the opportunity to meet sportsmen and women who are concerned that they may have heart disease or know that they have heart disease, in order to advise them from a sportsman’s as well as a physician’s perspective about the safety of them continuing to enjoy training and competition, and what limitations (if any) should be imposed.
‘I see many patients as second or third opinion where they have previously been advised to adopt a sedentary life and give up on their sport. In many cases we can modify this advice and allow them to continue to do what they love to do.’
Nigel’s passion is track cycling and he continues to enjoy a high level of competitive sport. For Nigel, track cycling represents a reason to train for performance; to enjoy the thrill of high speed competition; the camaraderie of friends and teammates in the track centre.
‘It’s a demanding and challenging sport which requires aerobic fitness; sprint power; tactical nous; confident bike handling and a bit of courage. I’m committed to ensuring that I have a structured and science-based strength and power training – particularly important in masters athletes who often retain aerobic capacity but lose these attributes if they are not a specific focus.’
Nigel was originally recommended to PerformancePro because of the skills and expertise of their personal trainers. He was introduced to Rob Rees 6 years ago following an operation for fractured femur,
‘After initial physio I knew it was important to work on leg strength – both prime movers and accessory muscles. The work has been so good that my force production in the operated leg is actually better than my “good leg”. Since then it is a key part of my training for cycling performance. This winter we are moving to 2 sessions a week as a focus.’
ISEH is an international centre of excellence for the provision of world-class sports and exercise medicine. Their services include sports performance, sports injury prevention and management whilst bridging the gap between elite sport, amateur sports and exercise prescription to improve the health of the nation.
Nigel is joining the team to bring further expertise within this discipline to the ISEH sport and exercise, medicine facility on Tottenham Court Road.
Given ISEH’s reputation and proximity to PerformancePro, we are proud of our connections and receive regular onward referrals from Nigel and other members of the clinical and medical team.
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