Screen more young people for heart issues says Botley man.
Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest should see more young people screened for heart issues, says a bereaved father from Botley.
Graham Hunter watched with the world as the midfielder’s heart stopped while playing for Denmark on Saturday
“There’s a lot of false assumptions like, ‘It won’t happen to me.’ Well, you don’t know. If you take Claire, for example, we had no idea that she had this – absolutely none whatsoever. And she just keeled over and died.”
Graham lost his daughter, Claire Reed, to sudden arrhythmic death syndrome (SADS) in 2013. She died at 22 years old, five months after marrying.
“She was a very active young lady. She liked running, did kickboxing, kept her weight right. She’d never taken any illegal substances. She didn’t smoke. She looked after herself. It was just a complete, utter shock. She’d never even reported feeling faint or heart issues. This was a hereditary issue that only screening would have found.”
The former Botley Parish Councillor now campaigns for Britain to screen more young people and give better access to defibrillators. Working with the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), Graham has raised over £80,000 to fund heart screenings for 1800 young people.
“The current system is reactive, not proactive. That means the NHS won’t do anything until you lose a loved one. Once Claire died, the rest of our bloodline gets tested. That’s too late. We need to raise the awareness.”
Dr Steven Cox, the Chief Executive of Cry told the media on Saturday:
“The sudden collapse of Danish midfielder, Christen Eriksen is another terrible reminder of the horrendous impact cardiac conditions have on so many young people every day in the UK and across the world.”
According to CRY, 80% of young, cardiac arrest sufferers show no symptoms before collapsing. In the UK, at least 12 young, healthy people will collapse and die from undiagnosed heart issues – every week.
“We know screening identifies most conditions. There is no question that proactive cardiac screening saves lives. But it will not save everyone.”
CRY’s leader emphasises the need for CPR training and accessible defibrillators, but adds that “it’s so important to recognise that the vast majority of young people will collapse whilst at home, alone or during rest and in their sleep. We have to do everything we can to understand why these collapses and sudden cardiac arrests happen.”
Under 35-year-olds with concerns can seek help and advice at https://www.c-r-y.org.uk/. CRY particularly advises people with heart issues in their family to get in touch.