The first in a series of free local screening sessions to identify potentially life-threatening heart conditions among young people has been held in Eastleigh thanks to the fundraising efforts of a local family.
The session – the very first of its kind in Hampshire – was organised by cardiac charity CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) and paid for by generous donations to a fund started in memory of Claire Reed – a local woman who died six months ago of Sudden Adult Death syndrome aged just 22.
The session took place on Tuesday (September 10) at Fleming Park Leisure Centre (who donated the free use of their premises) and over 100 people aged between 14 – 25 took a quick and simple ECG test which was then immediately assessed by a doctor.
Members of Claire’s family – her husband Andy, father Graham and brother Peter – were on hand to see the results of their hard work. They have helped collect over £25,000 which they hope will be used to fund further screening sessions.
Claire’s father Graham told Eastleigh News that a recent screening session on the Isle of Man had resulted in 15 referrals for further investigation while her brother Peter – who said his sister had exhibited no previous warning symptoms and was otherwise fit healthy – explained the importance of early detection through screening and the need to raise awareness of the condition.
“SADS isn’t just one heart condition it can cover several different potentially fatal ones and finding the existence of a condition through screening gives people control over their lives. People already know if they can get a cancer picked up early on there is a good chance of surviving a colleague I work with is an Italian – he was screened in Italy and identified with a heart condition which won’t affect him until later on in life but he can carry on working and it can be controlled later with medication.
“People don’t realise the extent of SADS. After Claire died we spoke to many people who would say they had a friend or family member who had died suddenly and no one was quite sure what had caused it that’s why we need to raise awareness and get in a nationwide screening programme.”
“Most GP surgeries already have the necessary equipment it’s just that under NHS rules at the moment your GP will only screen you if you are a blood relative of a victim or sufferer.
“The national screening council are looking at it (extending screening). According to CRY there are 12 victims a week here in the UK aged between 14 – 32 but I believe that is a conservative estimate based on data from the 90’s so that figure could be higher – but until you start mass screening people you are not going to find out the extent of the problem.”
Dr Steven Cox, CRY’s Director of Screening said in a statement:
“The death of a young person is heartbreaking and devastating for any family. It is therefore essential that anyone with a potentially fatal heart condition knows about it. Without this knowledge and, if necessary, appropriate treatment, they could be putting their lives at risk if they continue to participate in sport or take particular medication for example. In 80% of cases, there are no signs or symptoms, which is why cardiac screening is so important.”
“In Italy, where screening is mandatory for all young people engaged in organised sport, the incidence of young sudden cardiac death has been reduced by 90%.”
Claire’s family are also trying to promote the installation of defibrillators in sports venues and hotels with leisure facilities.
Peter thinks they should be compulsory:
“Footballer Fabrice Muamba was very lucky because there was a cardiac surgeon in the crowd when his heart stopped. My sister was unfortunate – it took a while for the ambulance to reach her hotel when she collapsed . Defibrillators aren’t very expensive – they should be included as part of building regulations for hotels.
“Maybe if that hotel had a defibrillator then perhaps she could have been saved.”
To book an appointment at a screening event go to: