Bereaved families from across Wales are helping to launch a major regional campaign to highlight the shocking statistic* showing that the number of young people who lose their lives to the tragic condition sudden cardiac death now stands at 12 every week – a staggering 50% rise on previous estimates.
*The new figures are based on official statistics [ONS 2006] citing the cause of sudden death among people aged 35 and under.
A poster-sized version of an emotive new postcard – featuring the photos of 12 young people from Wales who lost their lives suddenly to previously undetected heart conditions – was unveiled at a ceremony in Cardiff on November 12.
The symbolic campaign (which first started in 2004 to promote the fact that 8 young deaths were, at the time, estimated every week), will also include Gareth Thomas who died suddenly from a condition known as Long QT Syndrome in 2007. He was aged just 21. His sister, Sian (from Llantristant) has recently ‘made history’ by taking to the world famous ‘Fourth Plinth’ in Trafalgar Square in order to raise awareness of sudden cardiac death and CRY’s work.
However, the results of a national opinion poll, commissioned by CRY, show that overall understanding of sudden cardiac death in the young remains low in Wales with over half of people (53%) questioned saying they were not awareness of the scale of deaths and the fact that 12 young people are dying every week.
Chief Executive and Founder of the charity, Alison Cox MBE, says; “We feel – as the recorded incidence of sudden cardiac death rises – it is time to re-launch this powerful campaign to help emphasise the importance of screening and the fact that so many of these tragic cases affecting fit and healthy young people could have been prevented. 80% of the young people who die from these tragedies have had no symptoms and it is only through screening that the conditions can be identified.”
“These 12 faces are just a snap-shot of the problem and we need to keep up the pressure and engage support from as many MPs as possible to ensure we are doing everything we can to prevent other families from experiencing similar tragedies.”
This month, hundreds of postcards will be distributed by CRY families and supporters to people across Wales urging them to send it back to their local MP. It is hoped the influx of postcards will encourage MPs to add their support to the campaign and join the Cardiac Risk in the Young All Party Parliamentary Group.
Alison adds; “We already have good support from MPs in the AMs in the Welsh Assembly – some of whom have been deeply moved by a death of a young person in their constituency and have pledged to support us in our ongoing work and awareness raising activity.”
“We’re therefore confident that this latest campaign will help us to target those MPs and AMs who are not yet aware of our commitment to preventing further needless deaths across their region as well as spreading our important educational messages to parents and young people living across Wales.”
As part of its ongoing commitment to increasing accessibility to cardiac screening for young people, CRY has opened a specialist screening unit based at the University of Glamorgan.
For an appointment at the CRY Wales clinic, parents, young people, schools or sports clubs should contact the CRY Screening Administrator on 01737 363 222, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.c-r-y.org.uk/ecg.htm
New postcards will be launched regularly over the next 12 months, portraying victims from 12 different regions across the UK.